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Nash schools won't reopen until March

Posted on January 21, 2021

Updated on January 25, 2021

Local newsTop newsCOVID-19
Most students will remain in distance learning until March 22, the Nash County Board of Education decided Thursday.

Stock photo | Pixabay

Most students will remain in distance learning until March 22, the Nash County Board of Education decided Thursday.

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

Lamm

Lamm

E. Bulluck

E. Bulluck

Lamm

Lamm

E. Bulluck

E. Bulluck

NASHVILLE — Originally set to reopen this week, Nash County Public Schools won’t see face-to-face instruction until at least March.

In a 6-5 vote during a special meeting Thursday, the Nash County Board of Education determined most students will remain in distance learning until March 22.

“The decision was made in response to the rising COVID-19 cases in the area,” said Christine Catalano, the school district’s executive director of strategic planning and engagement.

In-person instruction, originally slated to begin Monday, has been delayed until March 22. This change means all students will continue second semester instruction in “Plan C,” which calls for all-remote learning.

All students in prekindergarten through grade 13 who chose the option of face-to-face instruction will transition to “Plan B” blended learning, with Track 1 students beginning in-person instruction March 22 and Track 2 students beginning in-person instruction March 29. 

Under Plan B, 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.

After Superintendent Steve Ellis announced that plan during a Jan. 19 meeting, school board members were inundated with calls and emails from parents concerned about their children returning to school. Board members said they received hundreds of emails.

School board members supporting the closure extension cited coronavirus safety concerns.

Board member Sharonda Bulluck said she has a real stake in the matter as a mother and former teacher.

“There’s too many lives at stake to take that chance,” Sharonda Bulluck said. “We want them to learn, but we want them to be alive.”

Board member Ron Silver said students’ safety is more important than resuming in-person attendance. The school board is responsible for student, teacher, staff and parent safety.

“I would be devastated if kids got sick because of our decision,” Silver said. “We’ve got to realize we’ve been given the task of making the best decision. We’re not ready, we’re not there.”

Board members in favor of reopening Monday said the district had extremely low performance rates and students needed in-person learning.

Lank Dunston said the school system has been a low-performing district for six years.

“I’m frightened of Plan C,” Dunston said. “I’m afraid we will lose a generation of kids.”

Board member Evelyn Bulluck, who made the motion to extend remote learning, said she hopes the county’s COVID-19 case numbers look better in March. 

“I have said throughout each of those six years we need to do something different. I take exception that we need to do something right now,” Bulluck said. “I hope the interest keeps up.”

Chairman Franklin Lamm, who voted in favor of students returning to class Monday, said he’s worried about students’ mental health. 

Lamm said he received a text message from a student who’s worried about one friend and already lost another to suicide since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The district needs to do something to improve success with many schools struggling and a high school at a 50% failure rate, Lamm said.

Lamm — a former Spring Hope Elementary School principal — said the elementary schools have been successful in reopening, and the same administration has planned reopening for the other schools. 

“Let’s roll,” board member Ricky Jenkins said of reopening Monday.

Vice Chairman Bill Sharpe said he’s spoken with state officials about making vaccines more readily available for teachers and staff.

“Hopefully by the start date, they will have a chance to get vaccinated,” Sharpe said. “If they don’t, it’s on them.”

Voting to delay opening were Sharpe, Silver, Evelyn Bulluck, Sharonda Bulluck, LaShawnda Washington and Doneva Chavis.

Voting to open Monday were Lamm, Dunston, Jenkins, Dean Edwards and Chris Bissette. 

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