Cumberland County school board rejects plan to resume some in-person classes in 2020

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Thursday, September 17, 2020
Cumberland County school board rejects plan to resume some in-person classes in 2020
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The plan was rejected in a 6-3 vote.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Cumberland County Schools Board of Education voted down on Thursday a proposal to allow a mixture of in-person and remote learning.

Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly opened the morning board meeting with an update on COVID-19 among school employees. He revealed 67 employees had tested positive for COVID-19, 113 employees had been exposed to the virus, 42 had to be quarantined due to COVID-19 symptoms, seven were hospitalized, and one died.

Connelly then moved on to present a detailed proposal that would have allowed families to opt in to a blended learning plan, thus allowing some in-person education to begin Oct. 19.

That plan was rejected in a 6-3 vote.

After the vote, board members suggested staying exclusively in remote learning until the end of the semester in December.

Discussions then took place about the specifics of that remote-only plan, including how it would affect athletics and how it would affect special education students.

WATCH: Cumberland County Schools students adapt to virtual learning but hope for normalcy at some point

Board members proposed allowing outdoor athletic workouts but not allowing any students in classrooms until at least the end of the semester.

That proposal passed with six votes in favor and three votes against.

Superintendent Connelly then pointed out that the North Carolina High School Athletics Association currently had indoor volleyball games scheduled to begin in November.

A new proposal was put forth to allow indoor volleyball competitions but bar any spectators from going to the matches. It passed unanimously.

Board Member Greg West said he thought it was important to give families of special needs students the opportunity to attend classes in person if possible. He pointed out that this was part of the plan initially proposed by Superintendent Connelly.

West made a motion, which was seconded, to allow the school district to continue on with the proposed plan as it pertained to special education students only.

This proposal garnered a lot of conversation but ultimately was never voted on.

"I think it's really disrespectful to come back and try to nitpick a motion after it has been properly moved and approved. We made it clear that the district remain virtual through the remainder of the semester--now I do believe that when it comes to the sports, if it's just kids in there and no one else, I have no problem with it. But just to try and nitpick a motion, I think that's very unprofessional," Carrie Sutton said.

Connelly said that he and his staff could research and lay out a new way to help families of students with special education needs. He said the staff could have that proposal ready for the board's upcoming Thursday meeting.

West was satisfied with that option and withdrew his motion saying he looked forward to having "an informed vote on it next week with the intent of taking care of the (special needs) children."


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