CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — A group of Cabarrus County educators is calling for more protective measures before more students return for in-person learning. The group held a rally before the Cabarrus County Board of Education meeting Monday night.
Cabarrus County Schools is planning for students in pre-K through third grade to transition to Plan A, four days of in-person learning and one day of remote learning, starting Feb. 16.
Additionally, students in fourth grade through 12th grade who receive services through the Exceptional Children English Language Learns, 504, and McKinney-Vento programs also will return to school in Plan A on Feb. 16.
The transition comes as state leaders announced last week it is safe to return to in-person learning.
"The science is clear,” Eric Davis, chair of the NC State Board of Education, said at a Feb. 2 news conference. “It is safe to reopen our schools in accordance with the health protocols."
Meredith Newman, a second-grade teacher at Patriots STEM Elementary School in Cabarrus County, said these decisions affect real lives.
"Cafeteria staff, bus drivers, teachers, and all school staff were incredibly shocked and disheartened to hear Governor Cooper push for schools to be reopened without reprioritizing us for the vaccine,” Newman said.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidance to reopen schools, “Schools serving children kindergarten- 5th grade do not need to adhere to the Six Feet Social Distancing Requirements…”
"That's not the case when we go to the grocery store or Target or Walmart or anywhere else,” Newman said. “Six feet is the standard. Six feet is the CDC recommendation, and six feet is the way to keep students, who cannot yet be vaccinated, safe in our classrooms."
Teachers also can’t be vaccinated yet, and Governor Cooper did not mention moving them up in line when asked about it at a Feb. 2 news conference.
“We want to get vaccinations to the entire population as quickly and as equitably as possible,” Cooper said. “Teachers are in the group of essential workers, and they are up next in the priority.”
Newman said in response, “To think of having weeks or months of classrooms where social distancing may not be possible without any date of getting vaccinated for teachers is a really scary proposition."