The Johnston County Public School Board voted Tuesday night to allow some students to return to their classrooms on September 28th. All others will return a few weeks later.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy said as a result of Gov. Roy Cooper easing some restrictions last week under Phase 2.5, he was comfortable allowing a small number of students to come back earlier than anticipated.
Pre-K and self-contained exceptional children
In a unanimous vote, the school board approved Dr. Bracy’s recommendation allowing Pre-K and K-12 self-contained exceptional children to return to campuses beginning on Monday, Sept. 28th. Face-to-face instruction will take place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a Professional Development day for teachers.
Board member Ronald Johnson questioned if transportation and student meals had been worked out. Dr. Bracy said everything was in place.
Kindergarten students will return on Monday, October 12th. They will attend on a Cohort 1 and 2 model. Group AA will meet on Monday and Tuesday and group BB will meet on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a Professional Development day for teachers.
1st through 5th grade
Under Dr. Bracy’s plan, 1st through 5th grade students will return on Monday, October 19th. They will also also attend on a Cohort 1 and 2 model. Group AA will meet on Monday and Tuesday and group BB will meet on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a Professional Development day for teachers.
6th through 12th grade
Dr. Bracy said 6th through 12th grade students will return on Monday, October 19th but plans for their return have not been completely finalized. The completed plans will be released no later than next week.
“We’re taking baby steps as we come back to normalcy,” Dr. Bracy told the board. “This gives us an opportunity to do our safety protocols and get use to our kids in the buildings. We haven’t had kids in the buildings since March. We want to get these protocols and safety regulations down to a science.”
Parents who still prefer their children continue remote learning will have that option instead of face-to-face learning. However, officials believe there will be a “mass exodus” of students who will be returning to classrooms.
The school system will send out an email to parents and employees making them aware of the start dates and new protocols.
One protocol will be the requirement all students have their temperatures checked as they board a school bus each morning. Officials warn this could delay some bus routes from arriving at school on time until drivers become accustomed to the temperature checks.
In a motion by board member Johnson and seconded by Teresa Grant, Dr. Bracy’s recommendations was approved 7-to-0.
Tuesday’s decision was a reversal of a plan approved by the school board less than two weeks ago.
After the meeting, Ronald Johnson told Johnston County Report, “I want families to have the opportunity to go back sooner, but any progress is still that, progress. We have to start somewhere and I am thankful Dr. Bracy proposed starting a couple weeks sooner.”
“I understand people are skeptical and they should be because they were told September 8th and that was changed. I was disappointed then but I’m optimistic now. We have to give parents the option if they want to come back. People are suffering, and I get there are dangers, but who am I to say your kid shouldn’t be in school if you believe they should.”
“It’s been a frustrating time for everyone, especially parents and teachers. Believe me, I want the option to go back tomorrow. I am confident there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The promises are made, just hold on,” Mr. Johnson said.
This story has been updated.