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REOPENING SCHOOLS: Blended Instruction, Safety Protocols, and Full Remote Option

After much discussion that involved considerable input from focus groups and parent, teacher, and community surveys, the Board of Education approved a blended education model consisting of in-person instruction combined with remote learning and parents may opt for full remote learning in grades K-12 to begin the 2020-2021 school year. The School Board selected Plan B, moderate social distancing, as defined by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and recommended by NC Governor Roy Cooper for reopening all schools across the state.

“We’re going to mitigate and manage the existing circumstances as best we can,” Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps said. “Our primary focus will be safety, instruction, and multiple facets of school operations. We will begin this year with Plan B, a hybrid format where students will attend school for a portion of the week, and we’ve added a full remote learning plan to accommodate families. It’s important for us to offer our parents a choice in the matter of educating their children. Students may enroll in remote learning through Caldwell Connect, the fully virtual online option.”

Students who choose Caldwell Connect will participate in a real-time, whole group learning environment taught by Caldwell County Schools’ teachers. Students choosing this option will not report to a school building for instruction as all instruction is online.  

To participate in the remote option, students and families will need to register online. Registration opens July 21 through July 31, 2020. All classes will be aligned to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and include all core content areas:  English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Some elective classes will be offered. To meet the logistical demands of full remote learning, elementary students (grades K-5) will need to commit for 9 weeks at a time, and middle and high school students (grades 6-12) will need to commit for 18 weeks or one semester. Students enrolled in Caldwell Connect will participate in virtual learning Monday through Friday.  

The website for Caldwell Connect houses the registration form for Caldwell Connect and a Frequently Asked Questions document. 

“What students experienced from March to June as remote learning compared to what is scheduled for remote learning this fall, is a day and night difference,” Phipps said. “Families are going to see major changes in resources, academic accountability, and a well-paced, rigorous curriculum.”

For students who want to return to school for in-person instruction, they will follow a modified face to face schedule. Students in kindergarten or first grade will attend their assigned school four days a week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. For all other grades 2-12, students attend school for two days a week for instruction in the classroom on an A or B schedule: Monday, Tuesday (A) or Thursday, Friday (B). Students will be assigned either A or B schedule based on their last name and students of the same family will be grouped together if at all possible. The remainder of their respective week is remote learning. Schools will not hold in-person instruction on Wednesdays, which is dedicated to teacher office hours for assisting students and/or conferring with parents as well as developing lesson plans and participating in staff development.

Students enrolled in a traditional high school will be assigned an A or B group and will attend four class periods each day on their assigned days. Cooperative Innovative High School settings for grades 9 through 13 (Early College High School and Caldwell Applied Sciences Academy) will participate in a hybrid model including both face to face instruction and remote instruction. Students will attend school two days a week and then work remotely three days each week. Students will follow the schedule of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.

Schools will adhere to all safety protocols recommended by local, state, and federal officials, to include daily health screenings before entering school buildings; social distancing of 6 feet; and face coverings required of all individuals on school campuses. Signage for social distancing and hand washing will be posted throughout the facilities. Each school will be equipped with additional hand sanitizing stations. For anyone suspected, presumptive, or confirmed cases of COVID-19 (K-12 or staff) guidelines from the NC Department of Health and Human Services and local medical officials will be followed.

Under Plan B, the school district will provide services in the following areas:

WrapAround Program:

WrapAround, before/after school care will operate both a before/after school option (6:30 am -5:30 pm) and/or a full day option (6:30 am – 5:30 pm) for students.

WrapAround will offer Before/After school care at these thirteen (13) schools Mon/Tue or Thu/Fri:  

  • Baton Elementary
  • Collettsville
  • Davenport A+ Elementary
  • Dudley Shoals Elementary
  • Gamewell Elementary
  • Granite Falls Elementary
  • Happy Valley
  • Hudson Elementary
  • Hudson Middle
  • Lower Creek Elementary
  • Sawmills Elementary
  • Valmead Elementary
  • Whitnel Elementary

WrapAround will also offer full care during the remote learning days at the following seven schools Mon/Tue or Thu/Fri from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm:  
Baton Elementary, Davenport A+ Elementary, Gamewell Elementary, Granite Falls Elementary, Hudson Elementary, Hudson Middle, and Lower Creek Elementary. On Wednesdays, these sites will be open from 6:30 am to 12 noon. Parents who wish to enroll their student in one or more of the options, go to the WrapAround website for more information and registration information.

Transportation:

Transportation will transport students with the option to accommodate feeder pattern busing if needed to assist in serving students. All students riding buses will be required to wear face coverings. There will be one student per seat with the exception of siblings or those living in the same house. Buses will be sanitized after each run, in the morning and in the afternoon.

Child Nutrition:

Meals will be provided to students on the face to face instruction days as well as offer opportunities for students for the remote learning days. The Child Nutrition Department will offer a curbside option on Wednesdays from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Due to guidelines from the federal government, students will have to provide their name and will be charged if they are not on free and reduced lunch. For students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and ride the bus home, these students will carry their food with them on the bus on Tuesday afternoon (Group A) or Friday afternoon (Group B). For qualifying students who choose to enroll in Caldwell Connect, they can pick up meals at the curbside site on Wednesdays. 

Schools will follow state and local guidelines for disinfecting facilities. Classrooms will be sanitized after each usage of any group of students and schools will be cleaned daily to prevent the spread or transmission of germs.

For the full document on reopening of schools, go to the Caldwell County Schools 2020-2021 Re-Entry Plan posted on the Caldwell County Schools website at caldwellschools.com.  

“The Re-Entry Plan is a living document,” said Phipps, “and may continue to be modified as we get further direction from state officials. We’ve customized this plan to fit our community’s needs; however, I reserve the right to reexamine and move to more restrictive options for the safety and wellbeing of students and staff if conditions warrant such an action.”

Gov. Roy Cooper, in consultation with NCDHHS, NCDPI, and the State Board, announced on July 14 that K-12 public schools would be allowed to do in-person instruction using Plan B beginning August 17. School districts must adhere to state guidelines but may add more restrictive measures as needed.

A Town Hall meeting to discuss Plan B for the Caldwell County Schools or to ask questions is scheduled Monday, July 27, at 5:30 pm at Hibriten High School in the auditorium. The public is invited to attend.