Wake County Board of Education discusses reopening plans
Wake County Board of Education members are meeting to discuss plans to get some students back for in-person instruction by October. Wake County students have been in online learning since Aug. 17, the first day of school.
okay? Yeah. Just e Mr. Sutton. We're gonna go ahead and put the title slide up, and then whenever you're ready, you can get started. Okay? We construct the ones here since we're doing a roll call. Uh huh. All right. Good afternoon, Trevor one. Looks like we've got, uh, also everyone here. Not everyone is here. Fucking Yes, Johnson. Everyone is here. Eso again! Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our, uh, water education work session, uh, calling this meeting to order, um, to get started. And we've got a lot of information to cover today. I would like to open today's special called work Session about making sure that the public understands what the board expects to a conference today as we work toward a safe return to in person instruction in Wake County. Today's meeting is the second of three meetings we have scheduled to review the details and options available to us. I know many families are anxious for Children to return to school. So are we. At the same time, we need to make sure we have done our best to ensure teachers and students are returning safely during our first full meeting on this topic. which was September 15. We reviewed the basic conditions that must be met in terms of operational details, staff readiness and health metrics based on that information and follow what questions we asked our school district administrators. We were used today's time to review and discuss specific recommendations from the school system leadership. No decisions will be made today. However, we have scheduled a final vote for September 29th, a week from today that will give teachers and families time to respond to today's recommendations and allow us to consider final details before making a decision as a board. So again, ah, final vote is not scheduled for today. But we will review and ask questions about the recommendations made to us by staff in preparation for a final vote next week. So with that being said, we have specific outcomes for today's meeting. Those three outcomes are as follows one a better understanding of the conditions that have led us to consider a return to in person instruction. Secondly, answers to questions about the staff recommendations or in person construction, and to gain insight into the boards, thoughts, ideas and perspectives as a relate to a phase and plan supportive of an in person return with that understanding of where we are in the process, I turned over to Super 10 more to get a start. Good afternoon, Super 10 More and you muted Kathy. We can't hear you appreciate that Good afternoon to get our conversation started today. I wanted to begin by listening the three conditions that we've been using since July to determine when schools would reopen for in person instruction. More specifically, when the board asked us to begin outlining a plan for returning to in person instruction, we've been basing our decisions about a safe return on the following three factors. First is operations are the supplies, materials and processes we need in place and ready to go Second staff readiness. Have our teachers have the time, or will they have the time to get back into their buildings and classrooms, understand the protocols established to practices the processes and and be able to practice them, access, training and information that they need to confidently return to safe in person instruction and then, for metrics? Have the health metrics been considered in the community? And are we meeting them as we've reviewed these conditions is important to note that the safety of our staff and students has been the top priority in reviewing what a return to in person instruction could look like. At our September 15th meeting, we addressed each of those three conditions, or the dependencies that you find in the orange box on the left. And then we provided a checklist to the reopening that come as a result of examining those dependencies found in the box on the right. We then asked board members about their questions and preferences so we could determine what type of rotation to use what grade levels to include in those rotations, knowing that the evolving data and guidance may impact our decisions at this time for the sake of the public who might be watching this presentation, it's worth noting that this approach was first discussed more than six weeks ago at an August 4th meeting. The framework for making the decision on when to reopen has not changed since then. At the August 4th meeting, we announced it as a district. The goal is to be able to transition to in person instruction as soon as possible, perhaps by the beginning of second quarter with the prioritized scheduling of students returning by cohorts again, this is under the priority that governs all of it. A safe return for staff and students. The beginning of the second quarter for most schools is October 26th. I would like to add one final piece of context before we discuss the staff recommendation today. And again, this is for the sake of the public who might have been unable to follow previous meetings. The board initially approved the framework for Plan B on July 2nd. This is the framework in the plan called for the school district to establish a three week rotation one week in person, two weeks remote for all students as soon as it was safe to do so. By July, 21 had become apparent. That are, the community spread of the virus would not allow us to safely open in person on the scheduled first day of school. At that time, the board approved the Plan B transition, which delayed in person classes. Plan B transition has been in effect since July 21 with teachers relying on and students in remote instruction. The question before the board today is whether we wish to make changes to the framework of Plan B transition, especially in the light of recent developments, and I want to talk about those evolving conditions of it. There have been at least two important developments since the adoption of Plan B transition that will affect our discussion today. One involves the information collected as part of partnership with the ABC Science Collaborative is a group led by the Duke health care system. Think UNC Chapel Hill is now involved as well. Research findings offered by the collaborative to this board make clear that compliance with a health plan is far more important than a specific metric when determining whether schools can operate safely. I can't stress this point enough. The health metrics in Wake County are clearly improving, but what will ensure the safety of staff and students is compliance with the health guidance. While the guidance is extensive, it still comes down to three basic rules where a face covering at all times wash your hands frequently wait to ensure appropriate social distancing. We could say this at the end of every slide today, and it would not be too much. It is that important to a safe return to help our staff understand what this means in more detail. The Collaborative, the Science Collaborative is offering weekly webinars with specific focus areas. You can see the topics listed on the slide, which are also going to be available to the public on a website beginning Sept 28. During this time, we have also continued to provide schools with necessary supplies. Resource is health, guidance and protocols, and the communication with principles and staff is ongoing, and it will continue indefinitely to better organize the tremendous volume of new information required to operate during a pandemic. Communications Department has created an index that organizes hundreds of documents into 11 different categories that's available on the employee Internet. Those topics vary widely from health screening protocols, face coverings, behavioral health assessments, online instructional support. I'll talk more about that in a little bit as decisions are made regarding the details of returning to in person instruction. Many of these same documents will be provided publicly and our website pages revised so that families and students are also familiar with the new rules and routines, and this will become places where teachers, families, students and staff can get answers to questions. I'd like it this point. Since on this slide I have highlighted the partnership with the ABC Science see ABC Science Collaborative to invite Dr Danny Benjamin, who is the co chair of that collaborative to provide some highlights and and sort of important points from the webinars that have already occurred. That align with three expectations that we're setting forth. And the resource is that we're providing to our staff, students and families. Dr. Benjamin, I wanna thank you for joining us this afternoon. I know that you're really busy and just coming off of another meeting, but would love to have some of your thoughts at this point based on the webinars that you've provided in the kinds of questions we're getting from staff. Great. Thank you. The E just wanted to find some terms for folks on some assumptions that are made. When we present these data, the first term is around. Face coverings, air mass. There are cloth mass which cover my face and sometimes have loops around the ears and sometimes dont have loops around the ears. The cloth mass provided to schools have loops around the ears, their integrity is when studied has been very similar to that of medical Mass, which or what? You might see folks in the operating room or interventional lists in the hospital where that has loops around the ear. That's a medical mask. And then there's a third type of mass called an N 95 mask. That's a cone shape on the front of the face. Those need to be fit tested, and any type of facial hair precludes their use. And, if they are not fit tested if they don't fit well, it's early. Data indicates that they may even be worse than either an effective cloth mask for a surgical mask or medical mask. The assumptions on the data are as follows that I'm going to present the data. The assumptions are that the Children do not have symptoms, that the testing status is unknown and that the either Children in the school or Children in the hospital or Children in the clinic or Children in the child care environment or Children in the camp are wearing cloth mass, and that the staff are either wearing cloth mass with loops or medical mask with loops. Not in 95 Mass in those settings. If compliance with mass wearing is very, very high secondary transmission, it is very uncommon. And in fact, secondary transmission tends to occur and almost universally occurs when folks break protocol. Typically, adults break protocol as it relates to masking. Secondary transmission is defined as student number one comes into the after school program with an infection. They are infected at home. For example, they come into the program when, if they were to transmit to a staff member or to several other students in the room. Those transmissions in that room are called the Secondary Transmissions. So we're really trying to avoid in the school setting. So if we document that the Children do not have symptoms, if we don't send Children to school with positive test results, and if Children and staff are mass, then the secondary transmission is a is an uncommon event. It's not zero, but it is uncommon on in the in many settings. Uh, the only times that it's occurring is when folks break masking protocol. I've been asking number of times should end 95 mass be routinely worn, and that presents substantial logistical challenges such that we are not doing that in the hospital setting, provided that patients don't have symptoms provided that the patients were able to where cloth mass and the physicians or nurses or physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, speech language therapists are able to where medical or cloth mask coverage? We're not using them with asymptomatic Children. The There are logistical challenges with the N 95 masks that bring risks to any large organization that want to use them routinely. And that's one of the many reasons why, even in the health care setting, we're using either the cloth or the surgical or medical mass. I've also been asked about H back systems and filters. This this requires a bit of, ah, longest answer. So bear with May in any kind of infection that is transmitted via the air like a respiratory virus or measles or tuberculosis. There is a, um, need to define how high is that risk If I'm infected breathing on one side of the room and you're not infected and you're 20 ft or 10 ft away from May in a respiratory virus like flu or SARS cov, too, that transmission that high risk area is typically within 6 ft. Oven unmasked infected person transmission beyond 6 ft is, of course, anything is possible in medicine. But the majority of the transmission occurs in that 6 ft range. In contrast, infections that are highly aerosolized, such as tuberculosis, measles there, Acela, they're the patient who is 20 ft away is at very high risk. It's in those types of situations where negative pressure rooms and other sorts of changes to the environment need to occur for protection of note. The are not which folks may have been reading about back in March or April. That is, if I'm infected. How many people on average will I? In fact, the are not for influenza is approximately two people, so if I've got it, I'm most likely to infect To others. The are not for SARS. Kobe to is somewhere between two and three. It's probably around 2.5. If I'm not mass, this is consistent with a 6 ft high risk zone. The are not in contrast for measles is 18. That's why if you have a child in the hospital with measles, they'll go into a room that protects the air from all other Children and adults. in the hospital because it's highly contagious, even beyond 6 ft. There have been theoretical concerns that SARS cov to might be aerosolized from time to time. And if you're doing things like into baiting patients testing patients for SARS cov too, it's clear that you will Aircell eyes. It's entirely plausible that there will be some Aerosolization if there's high intensity exercise or loud singing. But the vast, vast majority of risk is experienced within that 6 ft, uh, space. And the infection by Aerosolization is not something that we've been seeing in schools, hospitals or throughout the pandemic. So it's a theoretical concern, yes, but it's not something for which in any other setting, we are taking interventions. Um, certainly in the health care setting like we would with a new affections disease, where there is true frequent air civilization transmission such as measles and varicella. Thank you, Dr Benjamin. I know that those were two areas that we've received a number of questions about and that were the subject of two of the webinars that have already occurred on DGA. Just for staff who are listening, there is a reminder that you can access the entire ABC Science Collaborative site and archived Webinars um, through a connect those. Also those air available on our publicly available Web site. The presentation. A swell Azaz, the videos. I wasn't sure if that website was up yet. We I thought it was September 28th, but they will get that information out if it if it is available and up already. Great. Thank you. It's up today. Oh, great, thank you. So continuing on with the evolving conditions, the things that have changed since we initially adopted the Plan B framework. Second significant development since our last board meeting, even on September 15th, was the announcement by Governor Roy Cooper on September 17. As you know, Governor Cooper announced that schools are now permitted to open in Plan A for elementary school grades K five on Lee and after October 5th, this plan effects on Lee kindergarten through fifth grade. It does reduce some of the social distancing restraints placed on classrooms and school Busses, where some of those restraints become recommended versus required. At this point, they're still recommended, but there are no longer required. It is important to note that the governor's announcement does not remove all social distancing constricts. Congregate settings like libraries, cafeterias, etcetera remain with, uh, a requirement to social distance. Face coverings are still required for all staff and students. These air not optional, but planning a does offer district's more flexibility as they consider a return to in person instruction. Grades six through 12 remain in Plan B, not Plan A. The governor has not provided schools grades six through 12 with an option for plan Baby. They plan A. They remain in Plan B or the district can choose Plan C. And that order maintains the requirements of 6 ft social distancing in all school settings for great 6 to 12 including the classroom thes air, the same requirements that have been in place since July for all grade levels. District's may choose the plan that is more restrictive but not less restrictive than the governor's order. Another evolving condition that I'd like to make mention of, and this is, you know, late breaking. We've just pulled the preliminary information together. We're not quite done with the report, but we can talk a little bit about what's in it. We recently conducted a teacher survey. We do have some of those results back. We we do not have the parents ready yet. We have to do some translation because some of that is done in Spanish as well. So that will take a day or two longer. But we do have some preliminary results from the teacher survey. Um, a couple of things to note here. The most preferable option for teachers was really to look at pre K to coming back first, as well as regional special education. Students and other students would remain in remote instruction until a later time. Pre K five was the second most preferred option to bring back. Roughly 30% of teachers said that they anticipate needing to support all three modalities, and I'll talk more about that later in person instruction. Remote learning for Plan B students When they're in that rotation when they're not in the building and virtual academy overall, W. C. P S s teachers so far this year are reporting spending significant time planning for instruction outside of the school day to support remote learning to a greater degree than they did before the pandemic. I think it's been a change, obviously for everyone, ensuring that staff are comfortable and proficient in using and modeling the needed health and safety procedures is also critical to ensure a successful Plan. B teachers remain concerned about a return to in person instruction. And as an example, I think there was one piece of data that showed that when ranking options about returning the MAWR students an option reflected in person, the less favorable teachers were about that option. Good. So, um, but that's sort of the evolving conditions that have happened in the last couple of months. Uh, in looking at the operational pieces around the components for a return to in person. There are a few things here that you know we've talked about already. Like to continue to point out again. So this is PPE and supplies. For example, as of today, the district has acquired 900,000 reusable face coverings, 910,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, sanitizer, wall mounts, 10 ounce bottles of sanitizer for every classroom, as well as other assorted PPE that may be necessary. Shields, gowns, gloves, that sort of thing. Additional cleaning products are at the schools or they are an inventory for replacement when needed. At the schools. New cleaning processes are in place for when students return and signage reinforcing the three W's has already been provided to all schools. We have had reports from staff saying that they have not seen or do not know how to access these supplies. When we get that feedback, we work directly with principles to ensure what inventory is actually in the building, that it is adequate and that it is in the right hands. After delivering that initial round of supplies to schools that was completed a few weeks ago, we're now in a second round of deliveries and this is based on principle feedback about additional needs that they have reported. We are checking with schools at least one more time, and this will actually be an ongoing process, but at least one more time prior to the return of students to ensure that if any additional supplies are needed, that we get those in there, we are maintaining a centralized inventory of supplies as well for when schools need to replenish and then finally, our transportation routes have been established for the Plan B three week rotation that was approved earlier, and those air ready to go second major area in operations really is about the health guidance and the daily practices. Full understanding of this is critical for staff and students to remain safe and based on the guidance provided by the ABC Science Collaborative during the Webinars, full compliance with these health guidance and practices can literally make schools safer than the general community. A critical part of compliance is creating a culture of ownership. Guidance that has been provided to staff has been written for students does include consequences for repeat violations. That's for staff or students. However, the successful compliance does depend on each person's willingness to intentionally support the health of their community because that's the expectation that's communicated and the culture that has to be created unintentional support of the health of our community, in school for sure, and outside of school as well. And this critical component. This is the critical component for how we build the confidence of our staff, students and families that we can safely return to in person instruction. Again, we know we have heard from some of our teachers and staff that they have concerns now where there are no students in the building about compliance with the three W's and the governor's executive order, the DNC DHHS guidance not necessarily being followed. And that's why it's critical to note here that that is a condition that is important, that we all get on board with and that there be accountability structures in place for those who are not following the guidance of the rules that are expected to safely return to in person instruction, you can see some of the guidance that has been provided in the things that have been taken care of in this slide around facilities and health. We have coded 19 coordinators at each school. Um, that's not an extra position. It became a duty on top of what somebody else was doing. We're establishing care centers in schools, toe handle students that may have symptoms or staff. There's processes, language that has been communicated about handling presumptive suspected positive confirmed cases. We have screening protocols that have been outlined. Some schools have practiced them, Some schools have not. I think there's lots of reasons for that. Are teachers or underwater with remote instruction and virtual academy? Um, carving out time is a difficult thing to do. We just talked to you about how much more their spending on planning. Onda. We do have another month before the recommendation that the staff is bringing contemplate to return to school, but that is work that is still ongoing and needs to be done. But again, finally, as I said previously, is that culture of ownership that we have for how we take care of each other that's going to be important, along with the accounting middle accountability measures that get put in place. Ruin folks are not following the guidance that's required. So next, the third major area that we talked about with staff readiness. Um, and here, you know, ensuring that the health and transition needs of staff were considered and that staff and teachers are comfortable. It's possible returning to school the Plan B transition that that's that we put forth, provided that nine weeks that first quarter for employees to return to the classroom or to request long term work accommodations, if that's what they needed to do in more than half our buildings, At least three force of teachers are now working in classrooms. Almost every vacant position is filled. This does not mean, however, that all teachers that are in the building have resolved all of their concerns about health and safety. And as we add the additional component of students into the building, it is going to be critically important that we continue to seek feedback, listen and respond to staff about those concerns and provide the learning, the support, the conditions that build their confidence. This is also an opportune time to make a point about our teachers. That I think has been lost quite a bit in the debate about reopening public education and by extension, our teachers are in an extremely difficult position. They're not frontline workers in the sense of a doctor or hospital employees, but their value to our community is highlighted every single day that this pandemic continues to disrupt the daily routines of our parents and community. While the pressing need for in person instruction is clear, we have heard from parents and families about how hard this is on them, a swell. We must also acknowledge that genuine anxieties of teachers and demands that we're placing on them every day. We cannot create a work place that's free of risk, but I do feel that we are ethically required to do all we can to make schools as safe as possible for a return to in person instruction without dismissing or discounting the fact that we are asking teachers to accomplish a task that many of us cannot frankly would probably not even take on ourselves. I believe this point is often lost in the current debate among teachers, parents, administrators and elected leaders, and I cannot tell you how much it disturbs me to see that debate unfold. No group speaks for all of us, but we really are in this together and we must be collaborative, not divisive. I would not offer a recommendation that did not meet our goal of safe in person instruction. But reaching that goal is a tremendous challenge for everyone parents, administrators and especially teachers. In fact, I would suggest that what we're asking of teachers is really the hardest of all, not because of safety concerns, but also because we know that what we're going to be able to accomplish and plan B in this blended approach will not be what many of our students need. It might be better than fully remote for some. Our teachers will be text stressed to meet the needs of multiple cohorts of students 30% at least, and that must be acknowledged. We also know that in order to come out of remote instruction where we are now and move towards daily in person instruction for all students when it's permitted and safe to do so, we really must go through Plan B to get Thio Plan A. We must go through a hybrid rotation that phases students in. You've heard me say this before. There is no good Plan B. It's contrary to our commitment to excellence, our daily mission and who we are as educators. And yet it is also a responsible and prudent way to phase back into in person instruction. Our teachers and administrators have worked themselves to exhaustion to make remote learning successful for tens of thousands of Children. And I'm sure they will do again what has to be done for Plan B as we move towards returning to fully in person instruction. But we need to publicly acknowledge that they do not have the resource is that are needed to succeed at the levels we know are needed, and that is painful. It's painful to watch them struggle and painful to watch groups blame each other for a situation that none of US control schools are not resourced for Plan C or Plan B or even Plan A, and there is no playbook of proven strategies for this pandemic. As we look into the future, I hope that we can agree that resource ing our schools to achieve the level of excellence that our communities expect our teachers require and our students deserve will be a priority. This is, in fact, our sixth core belief. The weight county residents value a strong public school system and will partner to provide the support and resource is to fully realize our shared vision, accomplish the mission and sustain our core beliefs. I'd like to move now into some discussion about the metrics that we started at our last meeting. So when we think about determining whether or not it's safe to return to school, there's the following health guidance of the things that we're looking at. There is the metrics that are available at the state and the local level that we look at at on a daily basis, as mentioned earlier. The findings pervaded, provided by the ABC Science Collaborative have made it clear that compliance with the plan is far more than just a specific metric when determine whether or not schools can operate safely. With that understanding, we're revisiting that information from September 15th. We believe that these metrics, this language is appropriate for how to decide when to safely return to in person instruction. The North Planet Department of Health and Human Services and the Wake County Health Department published metrics that we do monitor daily. And when there are differences in those metrics, we reach out to our local health officials who have advised that the local data that is collected at the state level is where we should play it, pay attention to what we're seeing. We must remain cognizant and sensitive to the state. Measures and guidance or our ability to operate safely is in jeopardy. However, we must also acknowledge that there is no single number that defines safe from unsafe. It's not really a matrix that tells exactly when to reopen. It just doesn't exist. The key to operating safely again is found in compliance with the three W's wear mask. Wait at least 6 ft apart, wash your hands frequently and a well defined plan for re entry that allows students and staff the opportunity to practice the protocols, work in the protocols and then assess them. I'd like to ask, since there's a good bit of information here from the ABC Science Collaborative that we've leaned on to invite Dr Benjamin to provide a little bit of background based on how we're approaching the discussion around metrics, Dr Benjamin. Sure, thanks. So based on school Rio openings globally, whether that's in the European Union or in Asia, Australia, the United States or North Carolina, couple of patterns have emerged. One is that in the low incidents, low rate of positive test results communities. If schools reopened without masking and without distance that schools can be a night US for secondary transmission and for additional infections. It's also clear that mhm and communities where the percent positive is greater than the North Carolina average. That failure to adhere to masking and distancing can make things considerably worse. We've seen that in the southeastern United States, and we've seen that with masking and distancing, whether it's here in North Carolina or outside of North Carolina, masking and distancing and hand hygiene, predict success for a school and for a school district, there are not strong data around percent positives, 4% versus percent positives, 6%. So while I think it is thoughtful, think it's prudent to take into account what's happening at the state level and at the county level with percent positives. It's the reliance on the plan rather than on the percent positives that predicts success in School District's that are succeeding right now in the state of North Carolina. The second, the next thing that I think is important is that paying too close attention to a statewide or county metric can be distracting for managing a infection control situation with something like SARS cov too. By the way, I'm I'm sorry. I'm gonna take a tangent here whenever I use the word SARS. Cov, too. That's the coronavirus to or co vid 19 those air. Those are synonyms. So cove in 19 and SARS cov too. Covad 19. When trying to manage something like Cove in 19 co vid, if we pay too much attention to a percent positive metric or some other singular or multitude of metrics, we can lose sight of what needs to be done. For example, if there is a cluster or outbreak of infections in pre K area at a particular school, increasing the number of positives in this county of weight county intervening at that particular school extremely important rather than shutting down or opening up the entire school district based on what's happening at one school. So the metrics are percent positives total infected per day. What's going on as faras hospital admissions air concerned the availability of acute care beds. Those air certainly worthwhile things to keep in eye on, because if the percent positives and the total infected number per day skyrocket to above 10% test positives and above two and 3000 and above four and 5000 and the state infected per day, we know from experience that hospital bed it's being filled up with covert patients will follow. It's a good idea to keep a nigh on those, but, um, managing the compliance to good public health principles is where, uh, the good public health practices are able to improve outcomes for folks in our community. Uh, you know, that's a za county entity. Uh, you know, needs to partner and collaborate in ways with the state. Other than that, I don't have a strong opinion about the details of how that's done. That's a relationship between the county and the state. The state. Certainly giving you some guidance is to their, um, perspective about that. As faras uh, you know, Plan B is concerned The district's that are succeeding with that are adhering tightly to the masking, the distancing and the hand hygiene there. I do not have data one way or the other on plans other than plan B of there's Way just don't have data yet on anyone pursuing, uh, plan A Yeah. Thank you, Dr Benjamin. So just taking a look at what's on the slide, you know, enforcing the three W's, um, learning from what districts who have been in Plan B have done in terms of that hybrid model. Reentry, Um, that has shown some success. Um, is those air cornerstones and how we're looking at what's in the metrics and how we've developed our plan? Moving forward? Yeah. I mean, I certainly like that middle column and the third column again. I don't have an opinion as to whether or not somebody should go to plan B or should go toe plan A, um, but for any school district that's attempting Thio, move forward through this pursuing ah hybrid model first has been associate ID with success. That way, it allows systems and schools and staff and families too adhere to the protocols in much more controlled environment. And, um, you know, I don't want to take a strong opinion on anything but going. And my understanding is what's on the table for you guys is whether or not to go to plan B going straight to plan A, which my understanding is not on the table. Um, we just haven't seen folks have success with that. What we've seen folks have success with is from remote toe hybrid and then reassess. Thanks. Thank you, sir. Thank you again, Dr Benjamin. Um, so I want to thank Dr Benjamin for joining us today. I know he's gonna hang on for a long as he can, in case there are questions as we come up through the actual presentation of the recommendation. Or we could stop here for just a moment. If there are any questions that we'd like to engage in at this time. What is your pleasure chair Sutton. Uh, if you go ahead with the recommendation and then questions from them, Okay, So having reviewed the conditions, the supporting components, the use of metrics, the following slides are going to examine how we can move forward based on some of those changes and evolving conditions that we noted in the earlier slides. And in response to questions that have been asked, we are suggesting that we have the capacity to offer the following proposal to safely return to in person instruction. This proposal is not without challenges and a continued focus on addressing the acknowledged concern shared by staff and families for any in person. Return must continue. So in the proposal, what we're looking at here, um, is, um, beginning in October 26 which we noted earlier was the beginning of second quarter. For most of our calendars, we would begin in a three week rotation for pre K through fifth grade and our K 12 regional programs, and we're proposing that grades 6 12 remain in remote at that time on November 9th, which is two weeks later, we're proposing that grades six through 12 return in a three week rotation. That is the proposal that we are offering. I will say that based on the teacher feedback that's come through and some of the other evolving guidance that we're seeing, um, staff has contemplated whether or not grades six through 12 would would remain in remote for a longer period of time even through the end of first semester. We know that our kids and our families and our teachers want to get back to in person. But there are some additional logistical barriers with grades six through 12 in a three week rotation, when we come back in that are a little bit greater, and I'll talk more about those in a little bit. And then, on November 16th, after a full three week rotation of pre K five and K 12 regional programs, staff is proposing that pre K five and K 12 regional programs would return to daily in person, which is Plan A. So e do think that it's also worth noting here that these recommendations that were making also have sort of embedded within them. Um, our understanding and our knowledge and talking to principles about actual building capacities. We have many different types of buildings in the district's and the capacity itself varies by grade span. An example that I will give here is our K three capacity in classes to social distance is technically greater because those classes are already smaller, based on the legislative mandate for K three class size. But once we get to grades four and higher, we regularly have classes that are over 30 students. Um, and so I think that it's important to understand here that even though over just over half of our students are now in Virtual Academy, that doesn't mean that the other half can just return to in person instruction and the requirements of social distance and continue to be engaged. And let me explain that. And, um, if half of our students are in Virtual Academy, then it would stand to reason that about half of our teachers are also in Virtual Academy, so that if in the example, I'll give is maybe with a kindergarten class and then maybe move to four or five. So if I'm in a school that has 80 kindergarten students, that's gonna be four teachers 20 each little above the the formula. But it is the maximum. That's allowed right now, 20 if 40 of those students 50% are in virtual academy than 40 of those students come out of the 80. But of the four teachers for those four kindergarten classes, two of those teachers go with the virtual academy students. That leaves two teachers to serve the other 40 students. So when we return in Plan A, that teacher has a full load of 20 students. We may have empty classrooms in the building, but we do not have additional staff to spread those students out into. And that goes to the resource ING issue that I addressed earlier about not really being resource to address Plan B the way we really want Thio. So I think that's just important to determine. And then, as we get into older grade levels grades four and five and especially grades six through 12 those class sizes are even larger. Um, and right now we don't even have an option for grades 6 12 to return in the planet. A. So what we're looking at here with the three week rotation for bland be is the best way that we can ensure the requirements of social distancing 6 ft that are still in place for great six or 12. It's a critical point to remember as we discuss a return to in person instruction, So I'd like to show you what this looks like kind of in a chart or a graph. So this is this is pretty easy to understand. If you take a look at it, you see the weeks out in front of you. Um, the yellow is the pre K five that we've been talking about. You'll note that that begins October 26th. There'll be a cut one cohort and then a second cohort and a third cohort in those first three weeks. And for any student who is pre K through five, they would have one full week of instruction. During one of those three weeks Thea other two would be remote. And then on November 16th, you see the word return going through their those would be. The weeks that we are proposing here would then begin with full in person instruction, three K pre K through fifth grade and pre K to 12 regional programs below that, you see in the other two colors. The proposal for middle and high. You will note that those first two weeks of October 26 in November 2nd are not colored at all, because those students in 6 12 would remain in remote learning during that time. We are proposing bringing students back 6 12 for a three week rotation beginning November 9th, and I don't want you to get confused by the numbers. Three. The three in that column. The number. The reason the number three is all the way down is just simply because we wanna make sure that because we paid attention when we divided students early on into the three cohorts that we kept siblings together, we would want the week of November 9th, when 6 12 returns to be the third rotation that is currently in for elementary so that siblings would be on the same rotation. Um, we sort of left the week of November 23rd out of this, and and this calendar is mostly aligned Thio traditional some thio year round because they're very close right now. But we left that week out because that's the week of Thanksgiving. We're in the traditional calendar right now. The Monday and Tuesday are remote learning days that were required by the Legislature on and then we pick back up with November 30th. One of the reasons that we're looking and proposing at starting 6 12 November 9th is that the final week of this the week of January 11th, which is the last week of the first semester, would need to be incorporated as an exam week for our high school students and any of our middle school school students who are taking high school courses. Andi and so then the rest of middle school would be in remote during that period as we prepare for second semester. Um, I think that, um, we understand need to understand here that as we start looking at rotations of students and I mentioned this earlier, some of our teachers, 30% at least, will be responsible for technically three groups of students those that are remote in the rotation, those that are in person in the rotation and those that might be in virtual academy. It's not the case that every school or every grade level, because it does depend on a variety of factors, like how the principal has organized their staff to support the students in virtual academy versus those who are Plan B the size of the classes and the school and how many staff they have available to distribute on. Obviously, the number of students that are actually in virtual Academy um, schools can make changes to reduce the number of teachers teaching multiple groups in some cases. But that will require reorganization. And what I alluded to, I think last time in our principles have been aware of where your child's teacher might change in order to organize for this return to in person. But in some cases, it's going to be unavoidable. Unavoidable it'll be. I think it'll be harder or it'll be much more frequent 6 12. But that doesn't mean it won't exist in elementary. And an example I will give you an elementary would be all of the specialists, um, art music or a P E teacher. Most schools have one would be serving students that are in a rotation, some of which are remote, some of which are in person and would be serving virtual academy students as well. And that's that's just, um, it's a lot to ask, and it's a you know, it's a perfect example of why I say there's no such thing as a good Plan B. So I hope that the visual sort of shows you where we're headed. I do want to remind the board that I said earlier that you know another option that staff has considered it's not in the recommendation is keeping 6 12 remote longer than what is proposed in the calendar? Look forward to some discussion and thoughts on that, Um, as you look at, UM, the the plan that now has pre K five and K 12 daily regional programs embedded in it. Some of the features are that it does align with the option that the governor has provided of returning to a plan a top option at some point. Um, it does provide an initial run away for pre K five by doing the rotation for at least one full set of three weeks prior to returning to full in person. It does provide an opportunity for great 6 12 to return on three report ation if that's where we choose to go, and that return is smaller groups is really important because it maintains social distancing. It helps us practice the safety protocols and the routines that need to be implemented. And our schools have already prepared schedules based on the Plan B that was adopted. That included the three week rotations I've mentioned, and I and it is bulleted here again. Some teachers are really going to have to provide instruction in all of these modalities. Andi, that is going to be a lift. And it's not one that we have an easy answer for. We've got lots of folks working on options and folks calling principles and others to see, You know, if they have ideas about how to lessen that burden and how we can work together collaboratively to address, um, that lift and that that that work will obviously continue in earnest as we move forward on some of our pre K 25 bus routes, just like in the classroom. That 6 ft of recommended social distancing will unlikely be met because once we increase to daily for those grade levels, um, that recommended social distancing can't happen in the classroom and be like creating a bubble for the classroom. Um, and similarly, it won't be able to happen in terms of one person per seat on a bus. Um, it is not required that we maintain that social distancing, but it is still recommended. So I need to feel the need to point it out and and sort of embedded in all of this. We've talked about that. Scheduling and staffing will still continue to present challenges. There are no additional teachers on human re sources that are being provided in order to accomplish this. I do want to mention, uh, because a lot of this feedback a lot of the feedback that we're getting from teachers, Um, and something that I think we saw that I saw in the preliminary draft results of that survey spoke to asking teachers what would help them. And what are some options in particular when it comes to time that would help them with all of these competing demands and tasks And this heavy lift that we're asking off them. Andi, One of those things that has come up is the notion of a remote learning a synchronous day that's embedded every every week. And we staff does plan to recommend building in at least one weekly remote asynchronous support day where there will be no live class instruction either in person or online. And the reason for this is to acknowledge the lift that our teachers are having to make in terms of these multiple, different platforms on and to provide that time for planning and contacting and reaching all students as needed until October 26th. We're gonna ask, We're gonna We're gonna tell our schools that if they want to go ahead and implement something like this, they can do that and until October 26 will sort of leave it up to each school, how and when they build that in. But we are going to manage it differently after October 26 depending on where the board lands with the plan. So we have a little bit more consistency with when that is happening. Um, after that would be after in person instruction begins so that the asynchronous day would be the same for every school within the instructional calendar. Um, and they will be incorporated where there's not already a scheduled non instructional day. So not we're not talking about work days or holidays or previously scheduled remote learnings. Those remained the same. This is going to be done to address both the concerns of teachers, but also families that have expressed that the amount of time that students are spending online during remote learning is just too much. You know, it's really interesting and creating this remote learning model that addresses shortcomings that were communicated to us from the spring. And yet now it has become apparent that everything about online instruction actually takes longer on git can be frustrating and actually impede learning. So the additional the addition of this remote a synchronous day is consistent with teacher feedback is consistent with a lot of the parent feedback we're getting about. Students needing a break on git can support the current and future learning needs that we have, whether we are in Plan A Plan B or Plan C. So this is a recommendation that we intend to make for all remote instructions in grades 6 12 also, regardless of the final details and for all remote or in person or rotation instruction for students in pre K five as well. So I want to spend just a couple of minutes talking about the two week rotation because we did bring that up with, um, staff and parents and the board asked us about it last time, and this was really predicated upon this notion that because of the fact that 50% of our students were in virtual academy, would that facilitate a two week rotation? Um, it does align with what the governor has provided us as option. The two week rotation theoretically would provide students with more face to face time while we're in the rotation prior to returning to full face to face on debt. And it does continue that staggered approach that we've talked about the two week and three reputation do. Um, however, schools do not have their schedules built on a two week rotation that would be work that they have to do. That's an additional lift that we would be putting on them. Um, some of these remain the same as they do for the three week rotation, and that's the teachers having toe work in multiple platforms and multiple cohorts of students. The bus routes would need to be reconfigured for two weeks. Um, and then we've talked earlier that the recommended social distancing for pre K five couldn't be accomplished when we go back to plan A, um, it and we cannot do it for grades six through 12 and we are still required to do it for grades six through 12. So the two week rotation and it doesn't make sense that pre K through five, starting a three week rotation and then do 6 12 and a two week rotation on Ben have kids on those differences there. So that's why we stuck with the three week rotation for the recommendation for 6 12 Andi. And like I said, we cannot do a two week rotation for Great 6 12 and meet the requirements that are currently still in place based on the governor's executive order and North China DHHS guidance. So it's just not doable. Eso then moving on. So I want to talk a little bit about virtual Academy, as we sort of wind up with after the recommendation here. Um, virtual Academy is really is a really important components of choice that we have offered our families in the community. Our current registration for Virtual Academy sits at just over 85,000 students, Um, and we know at this point as you look through the bullets, it's important toe limit changes to the virtual Academy enrollment at this point to extenuating circumstances. If it's if it's if it becomes a full to a door open one way and the other outside of what we've already communicated to families because we did ask them to commit to a semester or a full year, then we begin negatively impacting the return plans that we have and the rotation plans that we have. Um yeah, it makes that planning sort of start all over again every time that we start adding more students than moving back and forth. We have communicated in our F A Q that students who chose fully online instruction for the entire year may request to return to their classroom setting at the start of second semester. Students who enroll in the WC PSS Virtual Academy for the fall semester only need to remain in that the virtual academy for the duration of the fall semester. That's what we're saying. Currently, students who do have extenuating circumstances that need or wish to with uh, implemented withdrawal from virtual academy or an Enrollment virtual academy are going to be working through their school based administrative team on that request, and the principal will need to consider it based on staffing. Class size limits any other considerations that applied to the context at the school level. This is Onley for extenuating circumstances. I want to repeat that there will be an opportunity prior to the start of second semester for students who chose yearlong Virtual Academy to make a decision about whether or not to stay. All students, quite frankly, will be able to make changes to their enrollment in terms of Plan B transition or Virtual Academy for second semester, students who are currently enrolled in Virtual Academy could choose to extend for the year students who are not currently enrolled for the year in Virtual Academy. Only a semester will have the option to attend on Plan B for second semester, and students who are not currently enrolled in Virtual Academy who are Plan B, will have the option to enroll in Virtual Academy for second semester. So through the process that we will put in place and that will likely be the end of October, beginning of November ish, um that we will be able to do that, Um, and that will be sort of the timeline for students and families to make changes. We do need to finalize families decisions by around mid November in order to ensure that the capacity needs. We have that. The staffing that we have, that the building constraints depending on where we are in our plans and our schedules that we have the time to plan to be ready for the beginning of second semester. So sort of in summary as we look at the dark blue box, which is the board adopted framework for Plan B. Um, And then we look at the middle box, which is the light blue box that Stack is recommending again. A start in October 26th with a three week rotation for pre K five and K 12 regional programs, where they will remain in that three week rotation three weeks and then November 16th at the bottom pre K five and K 12 regional programs would return to daily in person instruction in the middle. We have a recommendation for grades six through 12 to begin a three week rotation beginning November 9th. Again, I will just point out for the board that there has been considerable discussion about whether or not um looking at staying in remote for a longer period. Possibly the full semester for grades six through 12 should be considered as well. Um, And then you'll see in the orange box that we have just put an X on it because we cannot do it based on the current guidance and limitations, especially for great. 6. 12. So I think with that, I will turn it over to Mr Sutton to close either now or do you want to take questions first? Cool. I think you're muted, Mr Sutton. Okay. Yeah. We can begin with questions at this time again. You heard the recommendation from Superintendent. Uh, she also spoke about the challenges faced by both students and parents is a swell, as our teachers, uh, someone else to return to full face to face instruction as soon as possible are those want us to wait longer until we are sure that it is safe to do so. This board is challenged with trying to balance the risks and benefits of a return to school. And given the recommendation from staff, we will most likely land somewhere in the middle. That it seems so. Thank you, Superintendent. More on your leadership team or for your work on due diligence Implement. It's recommendations. Forward. Right to the board. Uh, what members will begin. Uh, any questions That you may a z get started. Mr. Said I just wanted to let board members know that Dr Benjamin was called away. Eso if you have specific questions for him, if you'll just let me know what those are, I will get them to him. Okay. And, uh, farmers gonna ask you that you be brief and concise, uh, and your questions and because I'm sure that everyone is as I see the hands coming up, we want to give ample time for all board members to, uh, ask the questions to have medical responses from staff on everybody leaves this meeting prepared and ready to deliberate and make a decision again a week from today. Eso again. I start with the hands raised, uh, seeing order, Dr. Mark. Good afternoon to you. Thank you. And, you know, I I appreciate for us all to be brief and concise at the same time. I also want to acknowledge that there's a lot of work to do here. And, you know, I do feel like we need to make sure all questions actually do get answered on, uh, you know eso I I appreciate Dr Benjamin is statements regarding masks and air quality and so on. And I concur with those, uh, I've read a lot of the science myself. A swell. I wish you were here to confirm. I mean, I think it is absolutely correct statement that an N 95 mask is not necessary for what we're talking about. But I think it's very critical that I'd like to hear the system formally acknowledge that we do believe that it is necessary to have a good fitting mask. You know, cloth masks, absolutely work medical masks. Absolutely work as I've shared with some. You know, n C state provided these medical masks to us at N. C. State to teach when, particularly when we were in person. Well, this medical mask works fine if I'm working in the lab where I'm not talking or talking, you know, a little bit with my students. But this mask simply did not work when I was teaching. When you're teaching, you're talking a lot and your mask moves. And so you spend time readjusting your mask. Uh, you know, it comes down, you know, over your nose. And if if a mask it comes down over your nose, your mask does no good. So, you know, I guess that I would like to hear confirmation that we will acknowledge teacher and staff concerns that there must be well fitting masks. And they, you know, I'd like to hear us acknowledge that we're going to work to help make sure that that happens rather than saying you're just on your own. So, Dr Martin, well, fitting mask is important. Um, you know, I've seen the masks that have been delivered to our schools, and and they may fit some people better than others. They are a one size type of thing and that we don't certainly don't have same size faces. I also know that because we've been under a mask mandate for quite a while in the state that most folks have their own mass and it is perfectly acceptable for folks toe where their own masks. I do think that if we run into a situation where the masks that have provided are not well fitting and the staff person is in need of a mask that fits well, we have been provided well, the state has been provided additional PPE dollars, too. Purchase additional masks, and I just contacted them earlier today to see Could we choose our vendor for those masks to try to provide some options for the dollars and maybe get some feedback from folks if they know of a type of mass for if there's a way to do that, to facilitate that with any teachers who have a need because we absolutely need to provide every staff with a mass that fits well that gets the job done that we're asking it to do. Thank you. And I just think it's really important that we communicate to teachers if you have issues where and how to to make that those issues known. Thank you. Similarly again, I completely concur with Dr Benjamin's discussion about H B A. C. They're you know, they're there is, you know, pretty clear study on the nature of particles. I think the challenge that you know, I think it's very important that we do validate the concerns that we've been hearing from a lot of stop working in the buildings. Is that e. I think there is a prevailing assumption. And I would have liked Thio here. Dr. Benjamin, say this is well that you know, there is a basic framework working h v a c system on. I know we've got some of those challenges in some of our schools at the same time, I think it would be worthwhile for staff to emphasize the work that has been being done during this building closed down time to try to get those in better operating condition. But you know, again, I think it's really important that as a school system we start with an acknowledgment that it is reasonable to expect a functioning H V A C system. We don't need it. HEPA filters necessarily. But people should be able to expect a reasonable H V A C system. And again, I think it's really important to validate that concern and let staff know that we've heard it and continue our work to make sure that we have functional systems. Uh, that is your right, Dr Martin. Um, you know, we we've asked our facilities and operations department to prioritize this work in our schools, to not only ensure that we're keeping up with the maintenance schedules and changing the filters, but that we're addressing, um, issues that sometimes seem to come up year after year after year, especially in some of our older buildings with older systems. Um and so I mean, I I don't have the full answer to you other than a commitment that we are doing that work and it is a priority for us. And we'll see if I can get our folks to provide a little bit more specifics about what that work is looking like. Thank you. I mean, I think I think it's just important to recognize that this is a valid concern. You know, there are, you know, we don't need to go to the extreme, but we do need to have functional, uh, systems. And that is the legitimate concern of teachers. Um, now, more of a question. I appreciate your adding the statement that there will be consequences and accountability. You know that that has been a question that I have been asking for some time. It was in one of my questions submitted to the board that for whatever reason, none of my questions, issues of concerns made it into the document. I don't quite understand why that happened. But, you know, as Dr Benjamin said, we can do this if compliance is high. We like, as you noted, are already getting many reports where compliance is not happening. Um, you know, so I haven't had a chance to look today, but as recently as yesterday, I was looking through documents, and I have not been able to find descriptions of the consequences or the accountability structure. When is that going to be available? Where can people go to look at it? I think it's very critical that accountability structures be communicated ahead of time both for staff because, you know, like, is noted, One of the biggest challenges is when staff don't follow protocol. But I think it's very important to the community. No, that's coming back to in person. In whatever format is a privilege. It's not a guaranteed right, and I think that we need to be very clear in our accountability. And I hope our structures show that that's what I'm looking forward to seeing. That that, you know, coming back is under the assumption that you will agree to compliance to our policies, and if not, we're not kicking you out of school. But the virtual option eyes there because we can't afford to have non compliance in our systems. So I guess my question is, where can we find three information on the consequences and accountability structures? So I need Thio Touch base with A. J. Because I know that that's a staff document that he's working on because it's pretty operational in terms of how we're communicating with our principles and our schools about it. Um, I know that it's a work in progress. I'm not sure that it's it's done yet, but we've been reviewing drafts of it. And then our student support services department with Paul Ko has been reviewing what that looks like for student compliance. So I can I can check with them to ask them to either. I'm I don't know if either one of them is on and can provide any guidance of where we are right now with it, um or or make sure that I get to you what they're working on. But I do know that it's contemplated not just for staff compliance but student compliance as well, because, as you said, Dr Martin, it is critically important that that we are in compliance with these, Um, these are not recommendations that these air rules on, but they demonstrate that we care about each other and then and that we know that, as Dr Benjamin has said, these are the things that make the difference. So leave it open. It's a superintendent more thanks for passing that along. And Dr Martin, thanks for that question. I just wanted to note that we've been thinking about this for a while ever since schools closed. But knowing that with the governor's announcement, we know how we know that guidance has to be finalized. Developed. So there is a team of us together thinking through the need for clarity, consistency in alignment on the three W's to make su