Pitt County Schools move to Plan A for middle, high schools

School Watch

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Add Pitt County to the list of schools moving to Plan A of North Carolina’s reopening plan for schools.

In a press release, the Pitt County Schools board held a specially-called meeting where the board voted to move middle schools and high schools to Plan A starting April 12. The school system will return to in-person learning each Tuesday through Friday through the rest of the 2020-21 school year.

The biggest difference between Plan A and B is the distance requirement of six feet is now no more. Students are now urged to separate as what the bill notes as “the greatest extent possible.” Pitt County Schools Director of Student Services Karen Harrington says this is a huge step to get students back in the buildings.

“We will probably be close to 75% students of our students all back face to face but I will say I’ve spoken to several parents who’ve called because they thought their students had to return and they were just not ready for that,” said Harrington. “We still have to follow all of the state guidance regarding masks. Masks must be worn at all times, even our vaccinated staff must wear a mask.”

The new plan also allows two students per seat on school busses.

Below is a press release from Pitt County Schools that breaks down the meeting and the decision to return to Plan A.

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Following the release of Senate Bill 220, the Pitt County School Board discussed the ramifications of the Bill at a Special-Called Board meeting on Monday, March 15, 2021. Based on the options available to school districts across the state, the Board voted to move middle schools and high schools to Plan A, from the current Plan B status for grades 6-12+. Elementary schools have already been operating under Plan A since October of 2020. All families will still have the option of 100% virtual instruction through the remainder of the school year, as directed by the Bill. Pitt County Schools currently operates with 75% of students opting for face-to-face instruction while 25% continue to choose the virtual instruction option. 

Following a vote, Pitt County Schools will move to Plan A for middle and high school students beginning on Tuesday, April 13th, just after the PCS Spring Break, for traditional schools. Monday, April 12th, will be moved from a virtual instruction day to a full teacher workday for 6-12th grade teachers. Elementary grades, K-5 will remain in virtual instruction on April 12th. Early Colleges will begin instruction under Plan A beginning Monday, April 5th. Middle and high school students will return to face-to-face instruction four days per week with no alternating weeks of instruction. Traditional schools will operate with face-to-face instruction on Tuesdays through Fridays with virtual instruction on Mondays, while Early Colleges will operate face-to-face for students on Monday through Thursday with virtual instruction on Fridays. 

The most significant difference between Plan A and Plan B, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services NC Strong Schools Public Health Toolkit, is the removal of the requirement of 6 feet of distance between students or staff members. Instead, Plan A includes language for social distancing as separation to “the greatest extent possible.” Plan A social distancing also extends to transportation, allowing 2 students per school bus seat instead of 1 person per seat under Plan B guidelines. All safety guidelines, mask requirements, case tracking, isolation practices, frequent cleaning and other precautions remain in place for the remainder of the school year as well.

Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker made the recommendation to the Board based on parent, teacher, and principal feedback supporting the change. The Board voted unanimously to move middle and high schools, grades 6-12+ to Plan A beginning on Monday, April 5th for PCS Early Colleges and Tuesday, April 13th for PCS traditional schools.  

“In recognition of the recommendation from the state, my understanding is that the science is supporting that 3 feet of distancing in the middle high school classrooms is just as as effective as 6 feet of distancing,” commented Board member Ms. Caroline Doherty

“Thank you to our community healthcare partners.” added Board Member Ms. Anna Barrett Smith. “They have helped us to get our teachers and staff members vaccinated quickly and efficiently to help make this more possible.” 

During a Legislative Update meeting prior to the Special-Called Board meeting, Senator Don Davis agreed, “We can and should get students back to in-person instruction as soon as possible.” 

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