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CMS board expected to vote Tuesday on increasing in-person classes

In a statement, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said they may increase the number of in-person classes for students at every grade level.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg School district leaders are considering recommending more in-person instruction for students at every grade level.

According to the CMS media team, district leaders are “evaluating options for increasing the frequency of in-person learning for students in grades K-12.”

Under the current model, most middle and high school students are on an A-B-C rotation, attending school in-person one week, followed by two weeks of remote instruction. Elementary school students are currently on an A/B model and are attending classes in person twice per week.

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“It’s moving really quickly, maybe too quickly,” said CMS 8th grade teacher Steve Oreskovic. “Teachers just started getting vaccinated.

CMS has hosted several vaccine clinics in the last week, in an effort to vaccinate as many teachers, support staff and bus drivers as possible as it moves into a new phase of in-person instruction.

RELATED: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools front-line workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

Oreskovic said, even with the vaccines, many teachers are still concerned about inadequate air filtration in the schools, and social distancing challenges with additional children in each classroom.

“Are you gonna have enough staff in the schools where you’re not doubling or tripling up kids in a classroom to where the social distancing is now out the window?” Oreskovic pondered.

RELATED: VaccineFinder: New tool aims to show where COVID-19 shots are available

CMS board members told WCNC Charlotte that they are expecting to vote on proposed changes at their regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday, March 9.

One possible recommendation would increase middle and high school in-person instruction to twice per week; elementary schoolers would receive in-person instruction four days per week, according to sources familiar with the conversations.

According to the CMS media team, “any proposed change will be presented as a district recommendation to the Board of Education for their review, for discussion, and for their vote to approve. At this time there is no final recommendation.”  

RELATED: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools front-line workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

RELATED: Public schools must offer in-person learning, NC State Board of Education decides

An increase in in-person learning may be connected to data that shows the pandemic is causing more students to fail than before.

According to CMS data, Black, Latinx and Native American students saw their course failures triple in the first semester of this school year. In English, failure rates for Black students went from 8% to 22%. For Hispanic students, the rate was 25%, up from 8% the year prior. White and Asian students saw 6 and 7% failure rates, respectively, an increase of just one or two percentage points.

On Thursday, the North Carolina State Board of Education voted to require all public schools to offer in-person learning by the end of March. As part of this decision, the state board implemented new COVID-19 safety guidelines that include mandatory masks and social distancing for kids up to fifth grade.

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