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CMS: Remote learning students must take state tests in-person

CMS administrators said federal and state laws haven't been updated to reflect the current pandemic.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — All students at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) must complete their state tests in-person even if they're taking classes remotely, according to district leaders.

During a CMS Board of Education meeting Wednesday night, administrators said the district must follow state and federal laws regarding fall assessments.

They said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told the state superintendent she is not planning on granting waivers to districts.

CMS policy coordinator Charles Jeter said the district will continue to request a waiver to avoid mandatory in-person testing.

"I can't say at this point we're very optimistic," Jeter said. "But we will continue fighting the good fight on behalf of our students and our staff."

CMS administrators said each school needs to have 95% of its students take the exams, and if they don't meet that requirement, it would severely damage the "A" through "F" letter grades each school receives from the state.

Tracy Lundell's son is in the eighth grade, and she doesn't plan on letting him take state tests in-person.

"My response was, 'Make me,'" Lundell said. "I'm very high risk, and I'm a single parent and don't want to leave my child without a mother."

Also at Wednesday's board meeting, CMS leaders confirmed elementary schools will return to in-person instruction, as planned, next Monday.

Despite a slow rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Mecklenburg County health director Gibbie Harris supported elementary schools reopening.

"I think the school environment is going to be a safe place," Harris said. "My concern is what's happening in our community right now in certain places."

She said parents need to model good practices for their kids, including how to properly wear a mask.

"Parents, teachers, staff need to think about their behavior not just in the school," Harris said. "They need to think about their behavior outside as well."

CMS said it'll continue to update its COVID-19 dashboard ahead of next week's reopening.