GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County’s Board of Education voted in favor of reopening schools this August using alternating schedules of in-person instruction and online learning.
The early-Monday evening vote was 8-1 with former educator Dot Guthrie being the only board member to vote against the plan.
The board spent the latter half of Monday afternoon listening to operation, instruction, and transportation plans developed by school administrators and staff.
The county is using Tryon Elementary School and Forestview High School as "test labs" to figure out classroom arrangements to reflect social distancing guidelines.
School leaders warned COVID-19 exposure will be a big challenge, particularly second and third-hand exposure.
One challenging example cited by administrators is if a teacher’s spouse is in contact with someone at their workplace who tests positive for the coronavirus.
The North Carolina Association of Educators' Gaston County chapter vice president, Alexa Feller, said the group preferred online learning until local COVID-19 numbers improved.
“We resolve that the students and staff should enter only when it is safe to do so," Feller said. "We would propose reopening schools August 17, 2020 remotely using [Governor Roy Cooper's] Plan C until COVID-19 numbers are pre-March 16, 2020 levels."