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Plan B dashboard could pave the way to get students back in CMS schools

COVID-19 spread in the community is among many factors that will determine in-person learning, along with staffing in schools, adequate training, and PPE stores.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is giving a first look at what it could take to get students back in the classroom, at least part-time.

Board members saw proposals for metrics that would be used to determine if and how schools restart in-person instruction. They also announced a date to discuss this transition to Plan B, hybrid learning.

During Tuesday night's board meeting, Kathy Elling, CMS Chief of School Performance and member of the Metrics Advisory Committee, showed off a draft of CMS's Plan B Dashboard. 

The dashboard contains the thresholds at which all schools could participate in in-person learning (denoted by green), when selective in-person learning would take place (denoted by yellow), and when virtual learning would be the only option (denoted by red).

SEE SNAPSHOTS OF PROPOSED DASHBOARD BELOW.

Some of the thresholds were not yet set, and officials noted that others that were set could still change.

One set of metrics with set thresholds pertained to the community spread outside of schools. It showed all schools could have in-person learning with a community infection rate under 5% and fewer than 10 cases for every 100,000 people in the population. 

Virtual-only learning would be considered with an infection rate above 10% and more than 100 cases per 100,000 people. 

In-between conditions would prioritize certain student populations for in-person learning.

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When asked where the community stood on this metric's spectrum, a committee member said it was the "lower end of yellow," or almost in the green zone.

Other proposed metrics, which did not yet have thresholds set, included the number of schools with cases, transportation, nursing, and custodial staffing, health and safety training, and infection control and PPE stores.

When asked whether there were any categories that were in the red zone, Elling said red zone metrics were school nurse staffing and health and safety training of staff — which she noted were expected to be fixed soon.

The CMS Metrics Advisory Committee will meet Thursday at 8 a.m. At that point, officials anticipate fleshing out the metrics thresholds further. A formal board discussion of a Plan B transition is set to happen Wednesday, September 16. 

Chairperson Elyse Dashew said the "possibility of furloughs" will also be discussed during this meeting. She said they do not know that furloughs will be needed, but noted that they might be needed and scenarios need to be discussed.

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