'Extremely nervous and worried:' Teachers upset as Wake school board meets to discuss reopening plan

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Public Schools System Board met for the first time in-person to further discuss reopening schools for elementary-aged students beginning Oct. 26.

"We understand that this is not easy, this is hard work," said board chair Keith Sutton. "We understand this will be the new normal for the foreseeable future."

On Oct. 26, Pre-K through 3rd grade students who are not participating in the district's virtual academy option, will return to classrooms in Wake County.

The decision, made last week, was met Tuesday afternoon with displeasure from teachers, including the Wake North Carolina Association of Educators president.

WCPSS votes to bring elementary, middle school students back to classrooms; high school to remain virtual through semester

"I am extremely nervous and worried about the return to school buildings," said first grade teacher Aubrey Diorio. "I think we need to wait until January at the very earliest. And I don't know if that's even going to be safe. I don't know that setting a date really is the best idea."

Students with special needs are also included in the group set to return on Oct. 26.

"Right now with the current plan that's been laid out, there isn't a safe way to bring students back into the school building," Diorio said. "And I would think, as a parent, that it would be more important to have a healthy child in their home."

Tuesday evening, board member Dr. Jim Martin added his comments on the board's reopening plan.

Frustrated Wake County parents hold reopen rally outside school district headquarters

"What I'm seeing is what the in-person roll out is going to look like before making the decision," Martin said. "Because we're seeing here already with our children with special needs is...what are people signing up for," he questioned.

Wake NCAE president Kristin Beller believes sending students back now is not in their best interest.

"Students feel comfortable (at home) and now we're about to yank the rug out from everyone and put students back into buildings," Beller said.

She believes the return to physical classrooms is detrimental.

"We're going to lose instructional time," said Beller. "We are really trying to do the best we can no matter what the learning environment is...it's not going to be ideal."
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