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'Flirting with danger' | NCAE concerned about transition to Plan A

The organization representing teachers worries it's unsafe. They want all staff members to have an N95 mask.

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — North Carolina school districts are weighing their options after Governor Roy Cooper gave the green light to move forward into Plan A. Starting October 5, kindergarten through 5th-grade students can return to in-person learning five days a week.

Monday night, Gaston, Cabarrus, and Watauga County schools were scheduled meet to discuss the options.

But the North Carolina Association of Educators is asking districts to think twice. The President of the NCAE said districts making the transition are “flirting with danger.” 

If schools choose to move to Plan A, some safety measures will still be required but there wouldn't be a limit on the number of students in a classroom, making social distancing difficult.

“We have some very real concerns about allowing schools to transition to Plan A,” said Tamika Walker Kelly, the President of NCAE.

Last week, Governor Cooper said because of the changing data in the state, K-5th graders can return for in-person learning. This school year has been challenging for teachers, students and parents.

“It’s really different compared to going to school,” said Noah Harris, a 7th grader.

But some parents see the benefits of time in the classroom, especially for younger students.

“I think for the young ones, in person is just a better option for them,” said Paige Horn.

Educators are concerned under Plan A, there won’t be a limit on the number of children in a classroom. The NCAE pushing districts making the transition to get every staff member a properly fitted N95 mask.

"They all belong to someone who loves and cares about them. It's important we continue to navigate this situation keeping our communities’ best interest in mind and educators are an important part of our community,” said Walker Kelly.

Students in Gaston County have been doing a mix of in-person and virtual learning since school started in August. Cabarrus and Watauga counties have been all online. All 3 districts meeting Monday to talk about re-entry plans. The NCAE urging them to listen to the concerns and take it slow.

“We want to make sure that we are not unnecessarily putting anyone’s child, my child, your child, or our fellow educator colleagues in harm’s way by rushing to reopen when we can do it in a safe measured way,” said Walker Kelly.

The decision ultimately falls on individual districts to make.

Monday night, the Watauga County Board of Education voted unanimously to implement a reopening plan for in-person learning for grades K-3. Beginning October 5, students in those grades will be able to return to school in-person with a 2x3 flex schedule under Plan B. More information can be found below.