Wake County Schools

More students, less social distance in Wake County classrooms come Monday

Posted November 13, 2020 6:38 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2020 9:56 a.m. EST

Monday will be a big day for Wake County elementary schools. After weeks of limited class size and rotation between in-school and remote learning, students in kindergarten through third grade will return to class — all together, every day.

Wake County will go from having 8,000 elementary students back in the classroom to roughly 24,000 special-ed regional students and PreK-3 students. They’ll also see the social distance requirement reduced — from 6 feet to 3 feet.

“When we started with a three-week rotation, you only had about five or six students in most classrooms,” said Keith Sutton, chairman of the Wake County Board of Education.

Some classrooms, especially at older Wake County elementary schools, don’t have enough space to provide six feet of social distancing when all students are present.

“We would obviously prefer the six feet," Sutton said. But the reality is that students will be no less than three feet apart.

"I think we’ll be able to maintain that in most cases, and we’ll be fine,” he said.

The district is following guidance from the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sutton praised the work already done by parents and teachers in teaching children about safety protocols.

“As they do lunch, as they move from class to class, go to the bathroom, go to the water fountain, all of those things have been sort of scripted out if you will. And so we understand it and are managing their movement across the buildings,” he said.

The school system’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 51 cases at schools since in-person instruction started. Officials will monitor this next step in their phased return and make adjustments as needed.

“We’ll be watching and seeing and how, particularly, looking at the numbers this first week or so,” said Sutton.

Monday is also the day the first group of fourth and fifth graders return to class. Three groups will rotate one week at school and two weeks learning from home.

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