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Today Brings First Look At CMS School Reopening Plans

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Volunteers and CMS staff hand out school meals to do during this spring's remote learning.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will provide the first public preview of reopening plans today, though there won't be a decision on which path to follow.

The state has ordered all public schools to prepare three plans for Aug. 17: Reopening at full capacity, at half capacity and with remote learning only. CMS staff will describe how the district plans to handle each option at a 7 p.m. special board meeting, which will be streamed on the board's Facebook page.

The CMS board had planned to vote on a reopening plan today, based on an anticipated announcement by Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper had said he would pick one of the three options by July 1. But at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday his office announced without explanation that this afternoon's briefing on COVID-19 would not include a decision about schools.

CMS board Chair Elyse Dashew said this morning she hasn't heard what the new announcement date is.

"All I can say is I hope it’s soon, because the logistics of what we have to do to put these plans into place are enormous, and Aug. 17 is just weeks away," Dashew said. "So our principals and our teachers really need to know so they can get going."

Those logistics include hiring staff, planning bus routes, ordering food, scheduling classes and sanitizing buses and buildings.

Today's meeting does not include a public comment period. Dashew said the board will discuss opportunities for employees, students and families to weigh in.

All North Carolina school districts and charter schools have been working toward plans, either in private or with some public discussion. For instance, Iredell-Statesville Schools held a parent focus group Monday to discuss the three options. 

The Wake County school board held a public discussion of reopening plans in mid-June, including results of a parent and student survey, the News & Observer reported.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.