WILMINGTON — The New Hanover County Board of Education changed the district’s approach to reopening on Monday night, choosing a new plan, but one that still tries to balance all-remote learning with a full-time return to class — a compromise that continues to anger some groups on either side of the divisive issue.
[Editor’s note: Stay tuned for additional coverage of the protests held outside Monday’s board meeting, as well as questions about the district’s communication policy for Board members.]
While Governor Roy Cooper announced last week that K-5 classes could return for full time, in-person instruction, the New Hanover County School district is not pursuing that option at the present time.
At the September 21 special meeting, new Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust recommended a move to the so-called AA/BB model, which would divide the student body into two groups. Group A would attend in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday, and participate remotely the rest of the week. Group B would have in-person classes Thursday and Friday, and participate remotely the first three days of the week. All classes on Wednesday would be remote. Parents that wanted to keep their student(s) all-remote will still have that option.
The AA/BB plan replaces the original ‘Plan B’ partial reopening that the Board approved last week, which would have alternated three groups of students in one-week in-class, two-week remote cycles.
As Foust told New Hanover County commissioners on Monday morning when he appeared to introduce himself and discuss several district issues, the schools were notified by Governor Cooper “at 3:30 on Thursday” of a new decision from the state that Kindergarten through 5th grades could return to full-time in-class instruction. That sent Foust back into discussions with staff and the New Hanover County Health Department.
Foust told commissioners that there wasn’t yet a plan for Plan-A (i.e. a full return to classes) and that, as an educator, he would only commit to a full return under the leadership of county health officials. Foust would later say he aims to have a “Plan A timeline” by the school board’s next regular meeting, currently slated for October 6.
The following week, on October 12, the AA/BB rotation plan will take effect.
According to the district, “to help communicate information and specifics regarding the AA/BB model under Plan B, the district will be hosting a series of Town Hall Meetings during the week of September 28.”
The district will hold four separate virtual events on:
- Monday, September 28 – District Staff
- Tuesday, September 29 – Pre K and Elementary Schools
- Wednesday, September 30 – LatinX Families (Partnered with UNCW Latino Alliance)
- Thursday, October 1 – Middle and High Schools