North Carolina Reopening Plan Background
From StrongSchools NC: Public Health Toolkit (K-12) • Interim Guidance • June 8, 2020
In order to secure the safety and protection of children and their families across the state, Governor Cooper, in collaboration with the NC State Board of Education (NCSBE) and the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), closed public school buildings for in-person instruction through Executive Order No. 117 on March 14, and extended through the rest of the 2019-2020 school year via Executive Orders Nos. 120 and 138.
On March 14, 2020, Governor Cooper established an Education and Nutrition Working Group to develop a plan to ensure that children and families were supported while schools were closed. Since then, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has worked closely with NCDPI and NCSBE to meet the nutritional, educational and child care needs of students during the school closure, and plan for safely reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
How should schools plan for different scenarios depending on COVID-19 spread and metrics?
Local education leaders were directed to plan for reopening K-12 public schools under three potential scenarios, depending on what restrictions are necessary when school opens, or at any time in the school year, to control the spread of the disease.
Schools were required to create the following three plans:
Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing
Implemented if state COVID-19 metrics stabilize or move in a positive direction.
Follows NCDHHS guidance (provides both required and recommended actions).
Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing
Implemented if COVID-19 metrics worsen and additional restrictions are needed.
Limits density of people in school facilities and transportation to maximum 50% occupancy.
Plan C: Remote Learning Only
Implemented if COVID-19 metrics worsen significantly enough to require suspension of in-person instruction.
Schools would be closed and there would be implementation of remote learning for all students.
JCPS School Reopening FAQ’s
Please be sure to check back often. Questions will be updated as new information becomes available.
Is this Plan B going to last all school year? What will happen if the pandemic changes?
When state officials made the announcement on July 14 schools would be opening under Plan B, no date was given for when it might possibly end. We are preparing for long-term implementation of Plan B but are hopeful that by following the simple practices of social distancing, wearing face coverings in public, and practicing good hand hygiene (washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer) the state may be able to transition into Plan A.
What is a cloth face covering?
A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. Ideally, a face covering has two (2) or more layers. These face coverings are not intended for use by healthcare providers in the care of patients. Surgical Masks, Procedure Masks, and N95 respirators are not recommended for general public use or use in community settings, as these should be reserved for specific high-risk occupational settings, healthcare providers, and other medical first responders in a healthcare setting. Every student will receive (5) masks that are reusable. Staff members will also receive masks.
Will students wear face coverings all day at school, or will there be times they can remove them?
NCDHHS recommends schools build in time throughout the day when students, teachers and staff can take short breaks from wearing cloth face coverings during times and in settings where risk for transmission is lower. We will be working to identify times when it would be appropriate for students to take a break from their face coverings.
What steps will be taken to ensure younger students keep face coverings on? During a normal year, the first weeks of school involve a focus on teaching students processes and procedures. Children are amazing learners and incredibly resilient! Our teachers and staff will be working with students to help them understand how to properly wear face coverings and to get them used to wearing them throughout the day.
What can families do to help ensure a safe, healthy school reopening in August? As we prepare for the reopening of school on August 17th, the most important thing students, staff, and families can do now to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is continue to follow everyday preventive actions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), and the Jones County Health Department:
Practice good hygiene.
Wash hands or use hand sanitizer regularly.
Stay away from those who are sick, and stay home if you are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Use a face covering when appropriate.
How will groups be decided? Will children in the same family stay in the same group? Under our current plan, students will be placed into two groups by the school. To make things easier, unless schools receive a request to the contrary, families will be kept in the same group. This will allow schools to make sure siblings at different schools within the feeder pattern remain in the same cohort. Schools will be releasing group information the week of August 3.
If I choose remote learning only, who will teach my child?
Your child would be taught by the teacher(s) he/she was assigned to at the beginning of the year. If online learning is your preference, you will be asked to sign a contract and will be locked into online learning for the first nine weeks.
How is this going to work for IEP students that receive services five days a week? District and school staff will be working with parents and the school based IEP team on appropriate adjustments to best meet the needs of the students.
What are the plans for school lunches? Schools will be providing meals for our students during the school year. NCDHHS guidelines do not prohibit schools from using cafeteria spaces, but people must practice the required six feet of social distancing if used. To help maintain physical distancing, all meals will be preordered and will be delivered to PK-1st grade classrooms. In grades 2-12, meals may be picked up by students in the cafeteria and then eaten in their classrooms.
What happens if a teacher gets sick? Will students have to quarantine for two weeks?
NCDHHS has implemented procedures for how schools should respond in a variety of situations, including teacher or staff member testing positive, student testing positive, or if the staff member or student is identified as a “close contact” of someone who has, or has tested positive for, COVID. We are working closely with the Jones County Health Department on our processes and procedures and will be as flexible as possible with attendance policies.
What will social distancing on school buses look like? When will families know their bus schedules?
With Plan B, facilities and transportation will be operating at reduced capacity. NCDHHS has been revising the guidelines for the number of students that can ride on a bus, so that number will vary. We do know students will be required to wear face coverings while riding school transportation. Bus schedules will be determined based on the cohort information. As these groups are developed, we will begin determining transportation and bus schedules.
Will students be allowed to ride a different bus in the afternoon?
No. Due to NCDHHS guidelines and limited seating capacity students will need to ride the same bus they rode in the morning. Seating charts will be developed for each bus. Parents will need to make arrangements for students that attend after school day care.
How will this impact extracurricular school activities like clubs and sports?
NCDHHS guidelines ask schools to limit mixing between cohort groups as much as possible. While we are under Plan B, activities which would bring together large groups of students will not be recommended. High school athletics will follow guidelines from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). We are still evaluating when and how we would be able to resume school athletics.
Are there items parents should add to their school supply lists due to COVID-19 requirements?
Locally, JCPS has purchased face coverings to provide to our staff and students. State officials have indicated they will be providing districts with face coverings for students and staff as well. Students may wear their own cloth face coverings, especially if there is a particular type with which they have become accustomed. JCPS maintenance staff are in the process of installing hand sanitizer stations in each of our classrooms. Hand sanitizer stations use a disposable cartridge and will be available for student and staff use.
Will students have their same teacher for in-person and online instruction?
Schools are planning on instruction to be provided by the same teacher(s) for both in-person and online instruction. In some cases, instruction may be split among multiple teachers, but they would most likely be teachers on the student’s instructional team.
Will every student stay at their home school?
Yes, every student will stay at his/her home school.
Who decides how schools can reopen and stay healthy?
The Governor's Office and NCDHHS, in consultation with NCSBE and NCDPI, determined how schools will reopen for the 2020-2021 school year based on the state's COVID-19 metrics. On July 14, Governor Cooper announced that schools will reopen under the state's Plan B, which requires moderate social distancing and reduced capacity in facilities. You can find information regarding local plans to implement Plan B. Further decisions regarding school operations will also come from the Governor's Office.
Will all students have a device?
All JCPS students will have a device: I-pad (K-6) and Macbook (7-12). The fee of the device is $25.00 per student. If parents have multiple children, arrangements can be made with school administration. A time will be forthcoming for devices and face masks to be picked up at schools.
What if my child does not have internet access?
Both the Math and Reading curriculum will allow assignments to be downloaded and not require access to the internet. We are also in the process of obtaining hot spots and compiling a list of establishments in Jones County that have available WiFi.
Will I need to be with my child when he/she boards the bus in the morning?
All students should be accompanied by an adult when boarding the bus. The parent will have to complete a short attestation form. If there are no issues or concerns with the questionnaire, the child’s temperature will be taken. Based on NCDHHS guidelines if a student registers a temperature of 100.4 degrees, they will be unable to ride the bus or attend school.
What are the procedures for car riders?
Students will have a temperature check prior to exiting the car. Students that drive to school will have his/her temperature taken prior to entering the building. Due to NCDHHS guidelines parents will be limited to entering school facilities unless arrangements have been made with school administration.