Thursday, June 20, 2024

Pender County goes with ‘cohort’ option to split in-class and virtual learning [Free]

A Pender County School bus near Maple Hill. Last spring, a 6-year-old student of Surf City Elementary was sexually assaulted on a PCS bus by a 13-year-old middle school student. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Pender County Schools students and faculty will be headed back to class — part-time. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

PENDER COUNTY — Pender County School board members selected the state’s fifth option to begin the fall school semester, placing K-8 and high school students into separate scheduling systems.

Under Option 5, K-8 students will be divided into two groups — Cohort A and Cohort B — with Cohort A attending class on Monday and Tuesday, both groups participating in online learning on Wednesday, and Cohort B attending class on Thursday and Friday.

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When Cohort B is not in the classroom on Monday and Tuesday, those students will be receiving online learning, as will Cohort A students on Thursday and Friday.

Traditional high school students will be divided into three groups — Cohort A, B, and C. Under the high school system, each cohort will attend class for a full week, followed by online learning for the next two weeks before returning back to the classroom.

During a special meeting on Tuesday morning, the Pender County Board of Education voted unanimously to employ Option 5, according to a Tuesday afternoon release from the school district. The decision was made after feedback was collected from community members and school employees through distribution of the Restarting Together survey, as well as analysis of what other governments and school districts across the state were planning.

New Hanover County Schools announced its plans last Wednesday. Similar to the schedule for Pender County high school students, all New Hanover public school students will be divided into three groups and alternate between one week of classroom learning followed by two weeks of virtual learning.

“This plan is subject to change base on the status and severity of Covid-19 per state and local government public health requirements,” according to the release.

On July 14, Governor Roy Cooper announced the state would extend its Phase Two economic reopenings into August and employ its “Plan B” option for the fall school semester.

Plan B includes a blended learning model, opening schools on alternating schedules at limited capacity. All K-12 students, teachers, and staff will be required to wear face masks to limit the spread of Covid-19.

All students will also be allowed to choose a remote-only learning experience. At the time of the announcement, the state did not address whether public school employees can also choose that option.

School districts can also enact a remote-only protocol based on local outbreak concerns.

Under ‘Plan A’, school districts would’ve been allowed to reopen at full capacity. Cooper said that schools should be prepared to shift back to a remote-only learning environment if the pandemic cause renewed concern.

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