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Coronavirus Information Report

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted unanimously yesterday for an all-remote option for the start of the 2020 school year. During an emergency meeting, board members cited a staffing shortage as the reason for moving to Plan C.

The continuing pandemic influenced the decision as the board recognized the numerous difficulties in opening schools and keeping staff and children safe. School is set to start on August 17. As of July 14, more than 1,300 staff members within the school system had requested alternative work arrangements instead of returning to schools for in-person learning. More than 100 other staff members said they would resign, retire, or apply for a leave of absence.

I mentioned yesterday in a blog that there’s no perfect solution for all involved. The primary goal is to make sure children are safe, as well as educational staff. 2020 has thrown curve balls at us continuously since March and we’ve all made adjustments in our daily life.

Many parents are not happy with the board’s decision because they feel a quality education should occur in-person. They also feel in-person learning fits the social and emotional needs of kids. Again, I see both sides of the argument. There’s just no solution that would make all happy. Read more about the decision here.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education voted to revise its school reopening plan and approved a full-remote learning plan, known as Plan C, during an emergency called meeting today. With this decision, CMS schools will open Aug. 17 with fully remote learning. The plan is designed to address worsening COVID-19 conditions and was an option given to districts by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper in a statewide announcement on July 14. "With new information becoming available to us since we initially voted to open schools with two weeks of staggered in-classroom onboarding, we feel this decision better reflects the current environment and offers us the best opportunity to educate our students while protecting student and staff health," said Elyse Dashew, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education chairperson. Among new information the Board cited as making the change necessary were public health studies and statistics made public after the original July 15 Board vote. Other information presented included staffing challenges becoming evident in recent weeks. CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston shared with Board members data showing significant needs remaining in critical areas such as transportation, custodial staff, and school nurses. These positions traditionally prove challenging to staff fully at the beginning of each school year, but COVID-19 pandemic conditions have contributed to even more significant numbers of vacancies. "We have new information about how the virus has had an impact on staff in some of our key departments," said Winston. "These departments play a central role in opening schools for an in-person experience. It is important that everyone understand that we want our students and teachers back in school but only when it is safe to do so." Earlier Board meetings and district communication provided detailed information about the school system's plan for a more robust remote learning experience compared to the last quarter of the previous school year. At today's meeting, CMS leaders presented updates for providing opportunities for exceptional children whose learning cannot be adequately provided in a remote environment. The Board approved

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