Wake County school leaders to discuss possibly changing reopening plan

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Wake County School Board will discuss Tuesday whether to change its reopening plan.  

Since the board announced schools would start in “Plan B,” a mix of in-person and remote learning, the board chairman said he’s heard concerns from teachers and the board has been looking closely at health data.

In the middle of the summer, children may be more concerned with playing than thinking about school. Parents, teachers, and principals are thinking about it nonstop.

Paula Trantham, the principal at Abbotts Creek Elementary School,  regularly updates her staff. 

“We met last week to talk about ‘Plan B’ and what that might look like and things we need to think about. And then we kind of put the brakes on that just a little bit to see what the board does,” Trantham said.

“We’re looking at perhaps starting online and then moving into some face-to-face situations as things change, as the data changes,” explained Wake County School Board chair Keith Sutton.

If school starts online only, many parents are wondering about the difference between that and WCPSS virtual academy.  

So far, 67,000 students have signed up for Virtual Academy. That’s more than 40% of students in the county. Students who sign up for Virtual Academy remain assigned to their school, but they do their work online rather than attending any in-person classes. Students can choose to sign up for a semester or a year. 

At Abbotts Creek, Trantham said, all of the students who enroll in Virtual Academy will be taught by teachers from their school. “One of the questions that’s been asked of me is, ‘Will the teachers be from Abbotts Creek?’ And, for us, right now we are able to say, ‘Yes they will be,’” Trantham said.

The district has said that may not be the case at every school, though. Trantham also said that a typical day at Virtual Academy will look nearly identical to a day of remote learning if the district goes to “Plan C” or decides to begin with all remote learning.

According to Sutton, the biggest difference between Virtual Academy and whatever plan the district ultimately chooses is that students in Virtual Academy will remain learning solely online for at least a semester. Students who do not sign up for Virtual Academy must follow the district’s plan — whether it’s all remote learning, a hybrid of remote and in-person learning, or, if the governor allows it, having everyone in schools.

No matter how school starts, plans could change throughout the year. Students who are not enrolled in Virtual Academy should be prepared to switch between plans.

Sutton noted: “The landscape changes almost daily.”

As the board continues to look at health data and concerns from teachers and parents, Trantham encouraged families to stay in touch with their children’s schools.

“Principals are trying really hard to answer questions that are out there,” she said.

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