CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools sat down for a one-on-one interview Tuesday and said he stands by the districts’ hotly debated Plan B plus remote learning model.
“We do believe our Plan B plus remote is the best option that gives us the best opportunity to provide a quality education for all of our students,” Earnest Winston told WCNC Charlotte’s Tanya Mendis.
The learning model brings students back to school for two weeks of in-person orientation. At the end of the two weeks, students will switch to remote learning.
Winston said the model is the best shot at equity.
“To make sure that all students have the resources that they need to be successful in a remote learning environment,” Winston said.
During those two weeks, students will receive their technology, training on how to use the online learning platforms, and will have the chance to meet their teachers in person.
Winston acknowledged that remote learning will be challenging for working families and will result in many families needing child care.
“CMS academic teams are well aware of the parental concerns regarding double duty,” a district spokesperson wrote in a statement after the conclusion of the interview. “Teams are working to put supports in place to assist parents who need it, and outreach to community partners is underway. Once these supports are in place they will be shared with families and stakeholders widely.”
Despite the challenges that remote learning presents, many families and education advocacy groups concerned about educator and student safety are pushing CMS to eliminate the two-week in-person orientation and move directly into full remote learning.
“I certainly understand, and I hear very loudly and very clearly the concerns that some of our teachers and our families have,” Winston said. “And I want to acknowledge that because those concerns are real.”
Winston believes that the time period is critical for students that otherwise may not have the equipment and training they need for online learning instruction. However, he also acknowledges that the plan could change at any time to full-remote, or to a partial return to the classroom.
“In a pandemic such as the one we’re in, information changes daily,” Winston said. “And if we need to shift or make adjustments to our plans then certainly, we have that obligation and responsibility to do so.”
CMS is assembling a medical advisory team comprised of health care experts in the public and private sectors to help establish a set of metrics to guide decisions surrounding moving from one learning model to another. Thus far, that team has yet to hold any meetings. Winston said he believes it will begin meeting “soon.”
“We want to return to some portion of in-person learning as soon as possible,” Winston said. “We are not going to be able to do that until it is safe to do so.”