Once all-online, Durham students will return to the classrooms in March

Posted February 18, 2021 7:39 p.m. EST
Updated February 19, 2021 9:12 a.m. EST

— Despite previously voting to remain in remote-only classes until the end of the academic year, Durham students will begin returning to the classroom in March.

On March 15, kindergarten students through fifth-graders will begin face-to-face instruction on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and will learn from home on Wednesdays.

Then, on April 8, sixth- through 12th- graders will begin face-to-face instruction in one of three cohorts and will attend school in rotation two days per week while remaining in remote the other three days when the other cohorts are in the classroom.

The plan for in-person learning was approved on Thursday night in response to Senate Bill 37, which could clear Gov. Roy Cooper's desk this week. A final House vote on the bill could force the hand of districts like Durham as soon as Wednesday.

A recent survey of Durham parents showed a 50-50 split on whether people think it is time to bring students back inside school buildings.

“We have heard from families who want to remain in remote learning and others who want to return to classrooms,” said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, DPS Superintendent in a statement. “We are now able to provide both of those options."

Another big concern is that social distancing guidelines for elementary schools will not require six feet of distance.

Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam said Thursday's decision by the board was "premature."

"Durham County’s school board must recognize that SB37 is not law. Governor Cooper expressed that it fails to follow the safety guidelines created by the NC Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). I strongly concur with the Governor’s judgment," said Allam in a statement. "I believe this decision does not prioritize the health of students, families, educators, and school staff."

The DPS Spring 2021 Learning Preference Form, which let families decide whether to remain in remote learning or transition to in-person learning, must be completed by Feb. 24.

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