Johnston County votes to begin returning students to class, Durham will stay in all-remote learning

The Johnston County Public Schools Board of Education voted 7-0 on Thursday for a plan to return students to the classroom in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted Updated

Julian Grace
, WRAL anchor/reporter
SMITHFIELD, N.C. — On Thursday, Durham voted to keep students learning from home for the rest of the semester, while the Johnston County Public Schools Board of Education voted 7-0 for a plan to return students to the classroom.

The 7-0 vote will send elementary students in Johnston County back to the classroom full-time by the end of October.

Middle and high school students can return Oct. 19, when they will be put into two groups. One group will attend Mondays and Tuesdays while the other group will attend Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be a virtual learning day for everyone and provide adequate time to deep clean the building.

Outside the Thursday meeting, some parents gathered with signs asking to return their kids to the classroom. They declined interviews, pointing to the message on those signs.

For more than two hours, the Johnston County school board discussed scheduling, cleaning and resources needed to open the doors. The board's vote is in favor of a gradual approach to bring students back. The district will bring back pre-kindergarten and some special needs children grades in grades K-12 beginning as soon as Monday.
Johnston County Public Schools return plan

First and second grades can return on Oct. 19, and third through fifth graders can start Oct. 26. Sixth through 12th grades will operate on a hybrid plan split into two groups for staggered in-person learning.

Johnston County Public Schools return plan

After the meeting, the board did not give an explanation on the decision but said a statement would come out Friday.

Durham Public Schools to remain remote until January 2021

Also on Thursday, Durham Public Schools' Board of Education voted 6-1 to stay with online learning for the rest of the semester, until at least Jan. 16. The decision was made because many parents and teachers remain undecided about in-person classes, and most say they have concerns about COVID-19.

Superintendent Pascal Mubenga recommended the district work on making remote learning easier by improving students' and teachers' schedules while awaiting the opportunity to return to in-person instruction.

The board agreed to come back at a later date to assess the situation and to see what steps could be taken to return students to class.

For those who want to stay online the entire school year, registration for Durham's Ignite Online Academy will open Monday.

In-person learning to start Monday in Harnett County

Students in Harnett County will start returning to the classroom on Monday as the district moves to a mix of in-person and remote classes. Masks are required and extra sanitizing stations have been placed in schools, and students who ride the bus will have to get their temperature checked before boarding. More specific information was updated on the Harnett County Schools website.
On Wednesday, Wake County Superintendent Cathy Moore recommended bringing PreK-5 and K-12 special education programs for a three-week rotation starting on Oct. 26. Grades 6-12 would remain online during that time.

A vote is expected next week.


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