In a split vote tonight (Tuesday), the Johnston County Public School Board voted to return to Plan C, remote learning only, effective next Monday, December 14th. Plan C will remain in place through Friday, January 15th for all Johnston County Public School students. Due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on January 18th, students won’t return to campuses any earlier than Tuesday, January 19th, if then.
School board members Mike Wooten and Ronald Johnson voted against moving to Plan C. Johnson said the current calendar keeps students in school through December 18th until the originally scheduled Christmas Break and he would like to see it continue on the current schedule.
Area Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Pearce said the goal is to switch to remote learning as soon as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Pearce said there has been an increase in COVID cases since the Thanksgiving break. As of this evening, 271 JCPS staff are quarantined and 235 staff are at home on work accommodations. In addition, there are 1138 students in active quarantine.
“The virus is not nice and clean… We owe it to our students and we owe it to our employees to keep them safe. I am sorry the virus did not cooperate with our calendar,” Terri Sessoms said.
Beginning Monday, December 14th all students and staff will work remotely. Only essential staff will report to work and will maintain social distancing. A few high school students will be on campus next week to take End of Course exams but for all others it will be Plan C.
Board member Lyn Andrews questioned how realistic it is to switch to Plan C so quickly. Andrews said it would give some parents only a few days to arrange for daycare. “I have no qualms about Plan C but I think we are making a quick decision. Its going to effect families.”
“I don’t think the virus is going to allow us another week,” Sessoms said.
Johnson expressed concern that every student did not have a Chromebook for remote learning. Chief of Operations Dolores Gill said they are working to make sure every student has a Chromebook.
Chairman Todd Sutton said based on the advise of the Johnston County Health Department he felt it was the right decision to move to Plan C.
Dr. Pearce expressed concerns the anticipated COVID spike during the Christmas holiday break could be worse than the spike at Thanksgiving.
In a motion by Vice Chair Terri Sessoms and seconded by Kay Carroll, the board voted 5-to-2 to switch to Plan C on Monday, December 14th.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy said he would make a recommendation on when students might return to campuses under Plan A or B at the January 12th regularly scheduled board meeting.