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Nash County Public Schools to reopen March 1

Posted on February 12, 2021

Updated on February 15, 2021

Local newsTop newsCOVID-19
During a remote special meeting Thursday, the Nash County Board of Education voted 9-2 to allow students to return to classroom instruction starting March 1.

Lindell J. Kay | Enterprise screen capture

During a remote special meeting Thursday, the Nash County Board of Education voted 9-2 to allow students to return to classroom instruction starting March 1.

State Sen. Lisa Barnes, left, meets Diana Gause's kindergarten class at Youngsville Academy, a charter school in Franklin County. Barnes recently voted for legislation to reopen schools for in-person instruction while allowing for continued online learning for parents who want to keep their children at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Contributed photo

State Sen. Lisa Barnes, left, meets Diana Gause's kindergarten class at Youngsville Academy, a charter school in Franklin County. Barnes recently voted for legislation to reopen schools for in-person instruction while allowing for continued online learning for parents who want to keep their children at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

During a remote special meeting Thursday, the Nash County Board of Education voted 9-2 to allow students to return to classroom instruction starting March 1.

Lindell J. Kay | Enterprise screen capture

During a remote special meeting Thursday, the Nash County Board of Education voted 9-2 to allow students to return to classroom instruction starting March 1.

State Sen. Lisa Barnes, left, meets Diana Gause's kindergarten class at Youngsville Academy, a charter school in Franklin County. Barnes recently voted for legislation to reopen schools for in-person instruction while allowing for continued online learning for parents who want to keep their children at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Contributed photo

State Sen. Lisa Barnes, left, meets Diana Gause's kindergarten class at Youngsville Academy, a charter school in Franklin County. Barnes recently voted for legislation to reopen schools for in-person instruction while allowing for continued online learning for parents who want to keep their children at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

State Sen. Lisa Barnes, left, meets Diana Gause's kindergarten class at Youngsville Academy, a charter school in Franklin County. Barnes recently voted for legislation to reopen schools for in-person instruction while allowing for continued online learning for parents who want to keep their children at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
During a remote special meeting Thursday, the Nash County Board of Education voted 9-2 to allow students to return to classroom instruction starting March 1.

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

NASHVILLE — Public school students in Nash County will be allowed to return to the classroom March 1.

With recommendations from Gov. Roy Cooper and legislation on the near horizon, the Nash County Board of Education voted 9-2 to reopen classrooms during a special called meeting held Thursday to discuss in-classroom learning.

Under the state’s Plan B guidelines, families have the option of choosing to remain on the virtual track or attending school for face-to-face learning Monday through Thursday every other week.

Chairman Franklin Lamm, Bill Sharpe, Ron Silver, Sharonda Bulluck, Doneva Chavis, Lank Dunston, Ricky Jenkins, Dean Edwards and Chris Bissette voted to open schools.

Evelyn Bulluck and LaShawnda Washington voted to keep classrooms closed.

Roughly half of faculty and staff members will be comfortable returning to face-to-face instruction, according to a teacher and staff survey presented by Christine Catalano, executive director of strategic planning and engagement for Nash County Public Schools.

School board member Evelyn Bullock said teachers believe they will get vaccinated before schools open, but it isn’t known whether that will occur. She said vaccine doses are dependent on the state.

“If all our teachers can’t be vaccinated, we need to tell them up front,” Bullock said.

Bulluck questioned how educators can tell students to wear masks when adults won’t do it.

Superintendent Steve Ellis said two students initially refused to wear masks when elementary students returned to school last year, but they agreed to wear their masks after administrators spoke to their parents. When schools reopen, students who won’t wear masks will be returned to online learning.

State Sen. Lisa Barnes, R-Nash, voted in support of legislation to direct all schools to provide an in-person learning option. The measure, Senate Bill 37, passed 29-15 in the Senate and 74-44 in the House. A conference committee has been appointed to hammer out differences between the versions adopted in each chamber. 

The bill would effectively eliminate Plan C, the all-virtual learning option, and grant school districts wide flexibility in how best to operate in person. It requires schools to adhere to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services safety protocols, while still allowing parents and students to decide whether virtual or in-person learning is best for their needs.

“I’ve spoken with many constituents in Senate District 11 who have voiced their concerns about virtual learning and the impact on students’ mental health, education and well-being.” Barnes said. “The science is clear: Multiple studies, including one conducted here in North Carolina, show it’s safe to reopen schools by following health protocols. It’s time for all schools to reopen.”

The legislation directs schools to follow requirements in the state health department’s Strong Schools N.C. Public Health Toolkit for reopening.

Studies have shown schools can reopen safely with mitigation efforts.

Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced that research conducted in North Carolina “tells us that in-person learning is working and that students can be in classrooms safely, with the right safety protocols in place.”

New studies affirm that strong prevention measures work, said Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently cited North Carolina as an example that schools can reopen safely, even during periods of high community transmission, when they follow those COVID-19 safety protocols,” Cohen said.

State health officials recently told the State Board of Education that COVID-19 cases associated with K-12 schools accounted for 0.15% of the state’s total cases as of Jan. 30.

Evidence that school closures harm children is overwhelming. As far back as last summer, public health experts at Harvard University warned that school closures are “a disaster that some students may never recover from,” according to information Barnes provided. 

Earlier this month, the CDC concluded there is little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.

Last month, University of North Carolina and Duke University researchers with the ABC Science Collaborative noted “no instances of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 were reported within schools” during their examination of 11 open school districts in North Carolina serving 90,000 students. 

“Our data supports the concept that schools can stay open safely in communities with widespread community transmission,” the researchers’ report concludes. 

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