The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education postponed a decision on students returning to in-person learning until Feb. 18 at a Thursday meeting.
The board heard three options and decided to consider Option B, which means maintaining the current spring break dates with a staggered return to in-person learning, at the next meeting.
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“It just gives us a little more time before we start the phase-in approach so we can respond with any new updates,” Patrick Abele, assistant superintendent of support services for CHCCS, said.
Spring break for all grades is scheduled from March 29 to April 2.
The other two options were:
- Option A, which assigns spring break from March 1 to 5, with remote learning the week after and a phase-in approach to slowly bring students back to in-person learning. Abele said Option B is a modification of this.
- Option C, which has all grades returning to in-person instruction on their assigned days in their specified cohorts, but all in the same week, rather than at a staggered attendance plan.
Abele said his priorities are to do what’s best for the students and their education.
"It’s about reengaging students in the new environment,” Abele said. “It’s finding your way around safely, following new protocols, new directions, new guidelines and reestablishing relationships with students, and identifying students' needs, understanding where students are and how we can best reach them, not just on an academic level, but on an emotional level as well.”
Board member Ashton Powell said he was concerned about the plans and what is in the best interest of the students.
“The academic plan which we know we’re falling behind on is, to me, now so secondary compared to the mental health and the support of the families,” Powell said. “Even if we go back in person, we need to do more to help those kids.”
On Feb. 18, the board will vote on Option B, which specifically details the return for middle and elementary age students, and will consider whether or not high school students return.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board introduced the new CHCCS superintendent, Nyah Hamlett. She spoke about her plan to maintain transparency and clarity among herself, her team, the board, educators, staff, parents and community members.
“It’s really important for us to maintain consistent and reciprocal communication channels with multiple groups,” Hamlett said.
In order to maintain open communication between the board and students, Hamlett intends to create a student advisory board featuring students from grades 6-12 in August.
“In the interim, starting next month, we’ll be starting to join secondary classes in middle and high school, just to observe and hear from students about matters that are top of mind and important for them,” Hamlett said.
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