Students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are returning to classrooms in a hybrid model on Monday. But starting April 5, elementary school students will be meeting in-person four days a week.
After listening to public comments and considering recent state legislation mandating in-person instruction, the CHCCS Board of Education passed a motion on March 18 to continue Hybrid Plan B for middle and high schoolers and move elementary schoolers to four days of instruction with Flex Wednesdays.
The Board heard conflicting opinions about how to return to in-person instruction.
During the 30 minute public comments period, several parents spoke about the continued struggles of attending school from home, including struggles with socialization and academics.
“We are failing our kids with every decision that prevents them from receiving five days of in-person instruction,” Dawn Martin, a mother of a middle schooler and two high schoolers, said.
Martin questioned the Board’s hesitancy to return to five days of in-person instruction when the county’s COVID 19 numbers are “within CDC guidelines for a full return.”
April Mills, mother of a 2nd and 4th grade student, seemed more concerned about CHCCS’s plans for the upcoming school year.
“With three months planned in the classroom for the rest of this school year, I want to focus on next year and what this Board is considering,” Mills said. “We need our kids in school five days a week."
Many, like Mills, feel the priority of the board is not them or their kids. Lindsay Kelly wrote a public comment saying the Board has “little to no compassion for working families” and describing the recent move to Hybrid Plan B rather than Plan A — which is the switch to a traditional learning environment — as a “communication failure.”
The Hybrid Plan B plan separates middle and high school students into two cohorts, meeting either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday.
But teachers wrote and spoke overwhelmingly in favor of the continuation of the Hybrid Plan with Flex Wednesdays.
Taylor Dunham, a special education resource teacher at Rashkis Elementary School, said at the beginning of the school year, CHCCS committed to keeping that Wednesday as an asynchronous flex day to provide small group interventions, individual check-ins, social-emotional learning and screen wellness breaks.
"Asynchronous Flex Wednesdays are crucial to serve the needs of our all-virtual learners as well as our students returning to the building," Taylor said.
She said they have been particularly helpful for students with IEPs and for BIPOC families, who have “been disproportionately choosing to remain all-virtual.” Dunham and other teachers expressed concern that removing Flex Wednesdays will unfairly and disproportionately impact the education of BIPOC students.
The Board also listened to presentations from Jessica O'Donovan, assistant superintendent of instructional services, and Charlos Banks, senior executive director of student services, on a proposed Saturday Academy program and various Social and Emotional Learning goals for the 2021-2022 school year to close achievement gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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