Cumberland County Public Schools to consider blended learning "Plan B" option for spring semester

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The fate of in-class learning will be back on the table for the Cumberland County Board of Education on Friday.

It's been more than eight months since students stepped into a classroom, after schools were shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a Tuesday morning school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly presented the board members with a Plan B option, which would entail a blended in-person learning option. Back in September, the board voted 6-3 against Dr. Connelly's similar proposal.


For this latest proposal, school officials say students would be divided into groups known as "cohorts". The AA and BB cohorts would be scheduled to work inside a classroom on separate days. For example, the AA group would go to school on Monday and Tuesday and then complete virtual learning on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays would be completely virtual to allow faculty and staff to deep clean school facilities.

The school district would also subject students and faculty to a nine-step screening to ensure no one with COVID-19 symptoms expose others by coming to school. Some of the screening steps would include filling out a questionnaire, being cleared to enter a school, temperature checks, and being provided masks and hand sanitizer.

In recent months, some parents and students have called for an in-learning option, in light of the school board's decision to stay online for the remainder of 2020. In September, a "Re-open our schools" pep rally took place in Fayetteville to voice their displeasure with that decision, stating that children and teenagers with special needs were struggling to stay on track.

Eyewitness News has also spoken to teachers who are worried about their own well-being, if they were to return to in-class teaching. School officials, during Tuesday's meeting, stated that 165 school and central services staff have requested job modifications, many of them involving the desire to telework. Of that large sum, 74 individuals were approved, 50 were declined, 36 are pending, and five rescinded.

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If the Plan B proposal is passed on Friday, during the 8:30 a.m. special meeting, then faculty would need to return to school on Dec. 7 to start preparing for blended learning.

The school board is also taking the COVID-19 metrics into consideration. Right now, Cumberland County's positivity rate is sitting above seven percent.

As a part of the decision-making process, CCS is conducting an anonymous survey to hear from parents and families. The survey needs to be filled out by 5 p.m. on Thursday.
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