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Gaston County school leaders to consider return to 5 days of in-person classes

The discussion will come as Gov. Roy Cooper urged school districts to return to a full week of in-person classes for elementary school students.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County's Board of Education will meet Monday evening to discuss having all elementary school students return to in-person classes five days a week.

The county currently has K-5 students in classrooms two days out of the week and online the other three days.

The discussion comes as Gov. Roy Cooper pushes for elementary school students to return to class.

North Carolina Association of Educators' Gaston County president Pam Miller said teachers are concerned about returning to in-person classes.

She said one issue is the debate between privacy and transparency.

She described a recent situation when a student missed class Monday and Tuesday, but then popped up for the online portion of the class on Wednesday.

"The teacher just very innocently asked the student, 'We missed you. Where have you been?'" Miller said. "They said, 'Oh I tested positive for COVID. Well, the teacher didn't know that the child had tested positive for COVID."

RELATED: SC governor, schools leader want 5 day a week option as soon as possible

She said the child's parent alerted administrators, but the information didn't trickle down to the teacher.

"We feel like we need that information as the classroom teacher," Miller said. "We need to know to look for symptoms in the other students, symptoms in ourselves."

The amount of information teachers receive, according to Miller, depends on each school's principal, as some are willing to share more information about cases without revealing identities than other administrators.

Consistent communication is part of the state's guidelines for reopening elementary schools to in-person classes five days a week.

"Going back to school and getting students into classrooms can be done safely with the appropriate health protocols that are in place," Cooper said.

RELATED: Divided response on Governor Cooper’s call to return to all in-person learning

Though some parents questioned the safety of returning to class, including Yolanda Sigismondi, who has twins in middle school and a child in elementary school.

"They should all be remote learning because COVID is not letting up," Sigismondi said.

Overall, Miller said Gaston County Schools' central office administrators have been open to accommodating teachers' concerns.

WCNC Charlotte requested an interview with Gaston County Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Booker, but no one from the county has responded yet.

The Board of Education will meet Monday at 5:30 p.m.


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