GREENSBORO, N.C. — Guilford County School students and their families now have a better idea of when they may get to return to school buildings. Students still have many more weeks of remote learning but a re-entry plan proposed by district leaders could have the youngest students return first. Parents are trying to understand the plan and how their children would be affected.
"Going slowly makes sense because everywhere else is jumping right in and they're shutting down so I commend them on that idea," said Jayne Herring of Greensboro.
Herring who has three children in GCS schools is cautiously optimistic about the plan but said the decision to return to school would be based on how comfortable a family would be.
"If they can come up with a solution that gives them an idea to open slowly safely as opposed to all of them together then I think it's great," Herring said.
Some other parents though feel it is still too soon for re-entry to school buildings.
"I don't want any child to sacrifice their life to return to in school environment too quickly before we have a consensus on how to control the pandemic and we don't have that yet," said Javonda Mori Dit Omar, also of Greensboro. "I just don't feel comfortable with my child being in a classroom with children that come from all walks of life and may or may not be exposed or unknowingly are exposed," she said.
If the plan is approved elementary and middle school students could go back on October 20th. However, re-entry would be delayed for high school students who might not return until January.
GCS Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras said Guilford County has met key positive coronavirus indicators for students to return to school.
The re-entry proposal to the Guilford County Board of Education Tuesday includes renting space from churches to expand social distancing options
Dr. Contreras said data showed greater spread in older students and because of what happened at a number of colleges across North Carolina, the health department backs GCS' recommendation to stagger reentry.
"We have the capacity in all of our elementary and middle schools to safely social distance with the exception of three elementary schools and two middle schools," she said.
The plan has pre-K to Second grade, returning to the class full time. Sixth graders would be split into two groups alternating between in-person and remote learning two days a week. There will be no in-person classes on Wednesdays which has been reserved for deep cleaning. The same would occur for Seventh and Eighth-grade students but on the following week.
"We don't want to reopen with all of the students and immediately we start seeing students transmitting the virus to other students," Contreras said.
Board members watched a presentation of the plan and asked questions during a virtual board meeting Tuesday.
"I do believe that more than ever we need to get back to schools and the fact that we're getting closer to that decision is very encouraging," said Pat Tillman, GCS Board member.
"I think the data was pretty hopeful and we're taking a very measured approach on any of these decisions," Tillman said.
The board will vote in favor of or against the re-entry at a September 24th meeting.
However, if coronavirus data for early October isn't favorable, GCS plans to maintain the status quo and continue with remote learning.