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Education
An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

CMS Board Meets To Consider More In-Person Time For Elementary Schools

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board has called an emergency meeting Thursday night to consider providing more in-person class time for elementary school students.

The board approved a phased-in plan for limited in-person time Sept. 16 – one day before Gov. Roy Cooper announced relaxed social distancing requirements for elementary schools.

Vice Chair Thelma Byers-Bailey and board member Sean Strain said Wednesday that members have discussed a proposal that Superintendent Earnest Winston will present. They said it focuses on using the new rules to provide more in-person time for elementary students. But they declined to discuss details, and nothing was released to the public or posted with the agenda.

"That's going to be the discussion tomorrow," Strain said. "How do you safely get kids back into the schools and maximize seat time?"

Under the current plan, K-5 students report to class starting Nov. 2, with only one-third of the students present at a time to allow for the social distancing required under the state's Plan B. That means each student rotates through one week at school and two weeks learning from home.

The new Plan A option allows more elementary students on buses and in classes, which could reduce the amount of time those students spend learning remotely. About one-third of all CMS students will stay home for the first semester because their parents enrolled them in the Full Remote Academy.

Middle school students are scheduled to start rotating back into class Nov. 23. High school students who take End-of-Course exams at the end of first semester will come back the week of Dec. 14 for testing. They'll return for classes when second semester begins Jan. 5.

Strain says he hopes the board will discuss bringing those students back sooner, even if the current rules still require the stricter social distancing at those grade levels.

Cooper announced Wednesday that the state will move into Phase 3 of coronavirus restrictions Friday, but that does not bring any changes for schools.

The CMS board meeting starts at 6 p.m. Thursday. Members will gather at the Government Center but spectators are not allowed. It will stream on Facebook and the CMS YouTube channel.