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CMS leaders discuss safety and equity with a return to in-person learning

Educators agree there are more challenges to consider for minority students

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In just a few weeks, CMS students in grades K- 5 will be returning back to the classroom for learning, but district leaders say they want to make sure this next move is an overall fair and safe one for everyone.

Educators say one of the biggest factors to consider is how the coronavirus disproportionately affects families of minority students much more, and as a result that can affect their success with remote learning.

“That’s one of the things that keeps me up at night,” CMS Board Chair Elsye Dashew said.

So far the county says they have seen success in allowing Meck Pre-K to return to in-person at 50 percent capacity. There’s confidence the same can continue as more students slowly return to the classroom too.

“Teachers are doing the necessary cleaning and disinfecting, the little ones are doing what they need to do and the families are doing what they need to so we aren’t seeing any spikes or any issues with our smallest students,” Mecklenburg County manager Dina Dioro said.

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But once back in the classrooms some teachers have expressed concern about making it a safe return for all students no matter the school they may attend.

“I know there are some building issues, there are so HVAC issues, widows that do not open so if students are going back our number one concern is that the teachers are safe and the students are safe,” CMS Teacher Kim Tuttle said.

The district says it has spent nearly $4 million dollars from the CARES Act funding to make sure every school is provided the necessary PPE like thermometers, hand sanitizer, masks and gloves.

The hope is that a combination of safety and equity will create educational success across the board.

“We need to get them to where they need to be,” CMS Equity Committee member Dee Rankin said.  “I think we need to start focusing on those things and being intentional.”