Local News

Considering a phased return to classrooms, Orange County schools survey parents, teachers

Posted September 23, 2020 5:05 p.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2020 7:06 a.m. EDT

— According to a report from UNC, the pandemic is upending expectations of education and child care. Many families, who are feeling the impact first hand, are sharing their experiences with school boards across the state.

As Orange County Schools (OCS) enter a fifth week of virtual learning, they've already begun discussing when students should return to the classroom.

Diana Guerrero, who has an eighth-grader and kindergartner in virtual classrooms with OCS, believes it's too soon to tell if returning to classrooms is safe. She shared her experience of utilizing the online learning system in her household.

"When everything first started, everything was terrible. I was so stressed. My oldest daughter didn’t know how to log in," she said.

Like most families, they’re adapting to the times.

"I know the kids have to go back to school at some point. If It’s the right thing, but it’s very scary with this situation," she said.

District officials are trying to map out the next nine weeks, with potential of bringing children back to schools.

“Lots of lessons learned, surveys, check-ins, meetings, sub committees," said Monique Felder, the superintendent.

She said OCS officials will consider bringing students back under plan B, which would mean meeting in-person at least every other week.

“Realizing that the safety and health and well-being of our students and staff remain top priority. Indeed we are eager to return to in-person learning as soon as it’s safe to do so," said Felder.

A task force will monitor four metrics to help in decision-making.

  1. The daily case counts
  2. The trend over a three week period
  3. Other trends in illnesses
  4. The county's percent of positive cases

“We can’t do this thing if we don’t have proper precautions for our students and our teachers, and I’m as eager as anyone to get my students back in school," said Hillary Mackenzie, board chair.

Parents and teachers will be surveyed this week ahead of next week’s school board meeting.

The superintendent recommended a phased-in return. The plan could be implemented in late October. The district hasn’t made any decision yet.

Some parents – like Guerrero – are not convinced that any in-person learning is safe.

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