'This is exciting': Visiting parents back at Wake County sporting events

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The state's largest school district took a big step forward Tuesday night.

Visiting parents and fans returned to the bleachers at a Wake County sporting event for the first time since the pandemic started.

In addition, Wake County Schools Superintendent Cathy Moore recommended that all elementary school students be brought back into the classroom on Plan A in the coming weeks.

In the recommendations shared at the board meeting, she said this would also mean middle and high school students would be phased back into the classroom as well.

Right now, only students in Pre-K through third grade and those in regional special education programs come in for daily in-person instruction.

Students in grades four through 12 are on three-week rotations.

"It will be a while before we see normal again, but we can begin to safely return more students to in-person instruction in the coming weeks," Moore said, citing numerous factors including decreasing COVID-19 infection rates and an increase in vaccine availability.

The board will meet next week to officially vote. Students could come back as soon as March 15.

If approved, the decision would not apply to students registered in the district's Virtual Academy.

In the meantime, the board also passed a motion 7-2 that would authorize Moore to increase in-person rotations for students in plan B at a particular school or districtwide, for example, so that not every change would have to brought up a school board meeting itself.

"It's better this than nothing at all," said Anita Harris, the mother of a Cary High School cheerleader who got to see her daughter cheer on the road for the first time in a year. "It means a lot to us because at first, we couldn't even do away games -- just home games. This is exciting because it's her last year on the field before she goes off to college."

Harris and her daughter were there for the first football game of the season between the Imps and Falcons of Green Hope.

"Usually you're not playing football this time of year," said Chad Smothers, athletic director at Green Hope High School.

Smothers screened all the players before they walked onto the turf.

"The stadium is marked with six-feet markers," Smothers said. "We'll monitor things to ensure people keep their facemasks up when people are cheering and stuff. We'll just be as vigilant as possible."

Wake County School Board Chairman Keith Sutton said Tuesday that all employees in the district who want a shot could be vaccinated within a month or so.
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