Durham Public Schools plans to send K-8 students back for in-person instruction, keep high school students home

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's back to the classroom for many, but not all Durham school students.

Durham Public Schools said Wednesday that it put together a plan for reopening schools under the state's "Plan B" requirement. Governor Roy Cooper has asked all school districts and charters to come up with three plans for the 2020-21 school year, depending on the severity of COVID-19.

Plan B means that there would need to be increased social distancing with schools at no more than 50 percent and buses at no more than 33 percent capacity. Plan A means there will need to be minimal social distancing. Plan C means remote instruction only.

The Governor will choose one plan as the baseline for North Carolina and school districts may adopt that plan or one more restrictive.
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After considering feedback from the Spark Re-Opening Task Force of administrators, educators, and health professionals, Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga presented this Plan B to the school board, which approved it unanimously:

Some of the key plan details:
  • In-person instruction for pre-K through eighth-grade students;
  • Online instruction for high school students, which allows officials to use high school facilities to reduce density for elementary and middle students;
  • In-person accommodations for exceptions such as exceptional children and English learners;
  • The creation of Ignite Online Academy for students and staff unable to participate in in-person instruction because of health concerns.


The idea behind the plan is to "mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 through reducing student density on our campuses," DPS said.

DPS said one of the reasons for choosing this approach is the need for childcare for the youngest and most vulnerable students.

WATCH: The DPS proposal for the upcoming semester
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The Durham Public School reopening plan proposal for the upcoming year



"We recognize that our high school students are also vulnerable and we are continuing to work to identify ways to ensure that they remain engaged and receive socio-emotional support," DPS said.

For the Ignite Online Academy:
  • Students participating in Ignite Online Academy will still be allotted to their base or magnet school-those schools will not lose funding;
  • Wherever possible, DPS will match students and teachers from the same school;
  • First-class learning - including daily, live direct instruction - powered by "our new commitment to provide one-to-one devices and internet connectivity to our students;"
  • With the plan to have High School students online, there will be collaboration between Ignite Online Academy and high schools to ensure that "we are sharing best practices and innovations in online instruction."


"We believe this is the best way forward to provide the most support possible to our vulnerable and historically-marginalized students while maximizing safety during the COVID-19 pandemic," DPS said.

WATCH: Deputy Superintendent Dr. Nakia Hardy presents reopening plans for Durham County Public Schools
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