CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education voted 8-1 Tuesday evening to increase in-person learning for middle and high school students after a recommendation from the superintendent.
Starting April 12, middle and high school students will be back in-person four days a week. Under this system, Wednesdays will be reserved for remote learning.
Then starting May 10, all CMS students will move to in-person learning five days a week.
Families have until April 1 to decide if they want their students to be in Plan A or Plan C, with full remote learning, through the end of the school year.
In addition, the board voted to keep open 82 After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) sites, allowing them to stay in operation through the academic year.
Under the current learning plan, middle and high school students are in the classroom two days a week with remote learning the rest of the week. Superintendent Earnest Winston's recommendation makes that four days.
On Monday, K-5 students transitioned to the new four-day model with remote learning on Wednesdays. This plan falls under the state's requirement for full-time in-person learning for elementary students.
One CMS parent told WCNC Charlotte she'd welcome more in-person learning for her son, who's in ninth grade. She said he's currently on Plan B, which is known as Zoom University, and even though he's at school most of the time, the majority of the day is spent on a computer.
"After about a week I asked if it was better," she said. "And the answer was, unfortunately, 'no, mom we're still on our computers about 90% of the time and the teacher is still at their desk about 90% of the time."
The CMS board is also expected to discuss bringing back some after-school enrichment programs, which were cut just a month ago due to funding issues.
During a monthly breakfast forum held by Charlotte city leaders Tuesday morning, Supt. Winston acknowledged the decision could be another stressful schedule change for families and staff.
"That's why we've asked our staff members to have some grace when working with our families and with each other," Supt. Winston said. "This decision reflects what is in the best interest educationally, and from a social and emotional standpoint for our students."
CMS Board Chair Elyse Dashew said she's encouraged by COVID-19 numbers dropping in the county.
"I want to start off by giving praise and acknowledgment to all of our educators in CMS, and all of our students who have been just incredibly resilient and adaptable and creative and really strong," Dashew said.
Last week, all of York County's school districts returned to in-person classes for every day of the week.
Jenny Provin's son is a high school sophomore in Fort Mill, and she said they haven't had any issues since he returned in-person full-time.
"I know it's scary in the world of corona, but it's going to be okay," Provin said. "The people in charge have thought through things."
Based on her own experience, she encouraged CMS parents to talk to their children if the board votes to change the schedule.
"Pretty much be their cheerleader," Provin said. "To help them see this as a positive thing and not a negative thing."
Tuesday night's board meeting started at 6 p.m.