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Some Triad schools choose in-person learning for the fall

Phoenix Academy and Shining Light Academy plan to welcome students back to smaller classrooms for the new academic year.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — No matter what school district leaders have decided on for the new school year, some local private and charter schools plan face-to-face instruction.

The Board of Directors for Phoenix Academy, a charter school, unanimously approved for the school to operate under the state's Plan B guide. 

That means the school will operate at 50% capacity with a combination of both remote and in-person learning and the option of exclusively online instructions.

Around half of the school's 1,100 students would return to the classroom on August 17 for in-person learning.

According to school administrators, the returning students will be batched into two groups with different schedules. Group A will attend face-to-face instruction on Mondays and Tuesdays but will be taught remotely the remaining three days of the week. Students in Group B will attend face-to-face instruction on Thursdays and Fridays and have Monday through Wednesday set aside for online learning. 

"That structure enables Phoenix Academy to provide the personal contact many students and parents desired, while also staying within the parameters outlined by the state. Parents are being contacted to let them know their student's class schedule," Brandon Lenoir, a spokesperson for Phoenix Academy said.

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Lenoir said the decision to offer in-person instruction was driven by a survey of parents and teachers. 

"More than 60% of parents wanted their children to return to the classroom, and all of the teachers supported the move. Parents were given the option to have the above outlined in-person class schedule or to have their child receive full-time remote teaching," Lenoir said.

Some parents and teachers opted for exclusively online instructions. Those children will be taught online full time starting August 17, while teachers who don't want to teach in-person were assigned to run the online classroom programs.

School administrators said extra steps are being taken to ensure students and staff are safe from COVID-19.

The steps include daily wellness screening including temperature checks upon arrival using the 'Lock Tight Fever' system which is a contactless camera that takes the students' temperature from a distance. Hand sanitizer dispensers have also been installed in each building, according to Lenoir.

The school buildings would be disinfected and cleaned extensively on a daily basis by cleaning crews in compliance with the state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. 

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Shining Light Academy, a privately run school, which has about 134 students said they'll operate as normal because they have fewer students

"We are Plan A and we're going forward as is, with precautions as if we would any other school year, but we're making our plans accordingly," Tim Bradshaw of Shining Light Academy said.

"We believe and studies show that students learn better with in-person instruction from a teacher and are happier when they engage in social interaction with their peers. According to the CDC, Pediatrics Association and more, children/young are less likely to contract COVID-19 or to spread it and recommend that students return to the classroom," Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw also said safety plans and precautions will continue with frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all classrooms and common areas such as bathrooms, gymnasium, cafeteria, hallways, and floors.

He said those spaces were also stripped, cleaned, and walls freshly painted.

The school plans to provide masks for students and staff as well.

"Before the kids come in, the parents don't come in, they bring the kids up to the door, their temperature is taken and after that, they can wash their hands and this is done at different intervals throughout the day," Bradshaw said.

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