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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper arrives for a press briefing on the COVID-19 virus at the Emergency Operations Center on Thursday, June 18, 2020 in Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced schools around the state will reopen on time in August, but under a hybrid plan that will allow for some in-person and some remote learning. Cooper also announced NC will stay in Phase 2 of its reopen plan for at least another three weeks.

“Today, we announce that North Carolina schools will open for both in-person and remote learning with key safety precautions to protect the health of our students, teachers, staff and families,” Cooper said. “This is the Plan B that we asked schools to prepare.”

The state will also continue in Phase 2 of its reopening plan for at least another three weeks.

“Today, I also announce that when the current executive order expires this Friday, July 17, North Carolina will continue to stay paused in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three weeks,” Cooper said. “We want to be done with this pandemic, but it’s not done with us. We’ll continue toward the school year and work together with everyone’s safety in mind. The easiest and most effective way we can ensure our children go to school in August and ease economic restrictions: wear a mask.”

But it was the schools plan that had been most anticipated from the Governor.

Cumberland County Schools had already announced its three potential plans for reopening schools, and leaned toward a hybrid option that would put students in schools on alternating schedules. Parents are also being given the option to choose remote learning for their student this year, should they feel more comfortable. A third option for all students now is a new Virtual Academy that stands alone as a separate school students would enroll in. Parents must make their choice by the end of the week. (Click here to enroll.)

Cumberland County Schools also plans for a virtual town hall meeting on Facebook tonight (July 14) to discuss the specific reopen plan for Cumberland County.

“Districts and schools can use a plan that works for them – whether it’s alternating days or weeks or some other strategy,” Cooper said. “Symptom screenings, including temperature checks, will take place daily before children enter the school buildings.”

Under the state’s plan, face coverings will be required for everyone in the school buildings. The state will provide at least five masks to every student, teacher and staff member.

The state will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 in the next month, and may revise to a Plan C approach if conditions worsen. Districts will have the ability to choose to be in Plan C if entirely remote learning works better for their area.

“The start of school is a month away for most of our children and we know a lot can happen with the virus during that time,” Cooper said. “If trends spike and in-person school cannot be done safely with these safety protocols, then we will need to move to all remote learning like we did in March.”

The Governor’s office issued a list of key safety measures that schools will have to follow as they reopen, including:

  • Require face coverings for all teachers and students K-12
  • Limit the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure 6 feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary
  • Conduct symptom screening, including temperature checks
  • Establish a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the school and transportation vehicles regularly
  • Require frequent hand washing throughout the school day and provide hand sanitizer at entrances and in every classroom
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups
  • Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups
  • Discontinue use of self-service food or beverage distribution

In addition, schools are strongly recommended to follow additional safety measures that include:

  • Designate hallways and entrance/exit doors as one-way
  • Keep students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible
  • Have meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups
  • Place physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

Additional plan information can be found on the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit site, and the Screening Reference Guide for schools.

Governor Roy Cooper

Many of the people risking their own safety to support our children ... right now can't afford health care. That's unacceptable. We need to expand Medicaid so that we can get our childcare workers out of the coverage gap and make our state a healthier place.

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Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.