Pitt County Schools Board of Education votes down proposal for return to all-remote learning

School Watch

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Members of the Pitt County Schools Board of Education on Tuesday voted down an effort to have the district start its spring semester with all-remote learning.

Board members held more than two hours of discussion, often getting contentious, to decide whether to shift away from in-person instruction temporarily due to rising COVID-19 cases in Pitt County.

“While we are a system that’s here to educate kids, we cannot do that without our staff, and our staff is at a higher risk,” said Anna Barrett Smith, a member of the board representing District 5.

The county saw a big jump in cases after Thanksgiving. School leaders worry there could be another spike in the new year.

“If you look at what happened after Thanksgiving, we’re right there where we were right after Thanksgiving,” Pitt County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker said. “I would expect us to be at least that bad, probably higher.”

At times, members raised their voices to argue their points of either keeping students in school or shifting them home until COVID cases decline. Ultimately, the board voted against a motion for remote instruction when classes resume Wednesday.

“We came close several times to closing school,” Lenker said. “We’re going to keep everyone open, if we can, but in this case, I just don’t know how we’re going to make it through the whole month.”

Officials said since Monday, more than 150 Pitt County Schools employees and 190 students are following COVID quarantine protocols.

“Parents need to be prepared at any point in time and have daycare services available for their children,” said Don Rhodes, board member representing District 4.

Tuesday evening, a notice was sent out to parents of Pitt County public school students.

Pitt County Schools will resume in-person instruction for face-to-face students on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Click here for all school calendars including traditional schools, A/B schedules, and Early Colleges: https://bit.ly/PCSCalendar

Please note the following important announcements:

  • Please do not come to school or send a student to school if experiencing any symptoms. For other scenarios and information on Covid-19 protocol, please read the email sent to staff, students, and parents this week about when to return to campus and when to stay home. Contact your school administration (parents/students) or direct supervisor (employees) if you have any questions.
  • Current face-to-face families who wish for students to stay home and engage in virtual learning temporarily may do so through Friday, January 15, 2021. This decision will not be binding for the entire semester.
  • Please know that we will continue to assess all relevant data on a daily basis, and that the unpredictability of the pandemic may cause a change at any time.  

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