2020 – 21 WCPSS creates back to school plans

Jack Armstrong, News Writer


COVID-19 has caused the closure of all Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS)for the safety of students and others. The date to return was originally September 8 then changed to October 22,  and for high school students the date will now be around January 20. 

“In a pandemic everything is subject to change.” said James Martin, WCPSS School board representative. Many people have been concerned about safety when they return to school, so a set of safety guidelines has been created by the school board outlining the importance of safety. 

“You have to build a community that says hey, we’re going to care for eachother but at some point when people are not paying attention to that then you have to take additional measures, and then it will go to measures just like other issues with the code of conduct,” said Martin.

Upon the return to school, students will have to wear face coverings per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Students must also frequently wash their hands and maintain social distance. Some of the consequences for not complying with the guidelines may include student-parent-teacher or student-parent-administrator conferences, oral or written warnings or a referral to a counselor. 

There has been some confusion as to which schools need to return first. “The highest priority, I would say, has been the youngest children because if you don’t know how to read, it’s kind of hard to interface all the time with a computer. So there is a high priority for children in the pre-k through the third grade just because there are much more limited things you can do on a screen. There is also a high priority for children with special needs because you often need more one on one engagement with adults. The highest priority needs to be working with students with fewer coping skills, who can retialy make accommodations. Older students have better accommodation skills, that’s why the priority needs to be on the youngest children first.” Martin said.

As of Oct 26, there are some students who are already returning to school. Fourth and fifth graders have already returned to school and middle schoolers will be returning on a three week rotation.  “I don’t think it was completely wise. It was against the recommendation of principals but the board voted to start bringing back fourth and fifth graders and also middle schoolers. The problem there is that we don’t have the number of staff needed to have the amount of social distancing that is required. I personally think that you run into major safety issues if you try to have overly filled classrooms that’s still an issue that needs to be resolved because I dont think its safe to have, you know twenty five to thirty students in a classroom and that’s a big issue at the highschool level, and somewhat at the middle school level.” said Martin. 

High school students will most likely be returning on a three week rotational system. The purpose of the system is to enable students to get in person education while having an alternate two weeks of remote learning. Not having all students go at the same time will hopefully negate the possibility of the virus spreading. Online learning has been difficult for both teachers and students.  “I enjoy the interaction of students and seeing them work with one another.” said Meridith Bawden, math teacher at Athens Drive.  The goal, as it stands, is for students to return to school in the safest way possible, while getting the most out of the time they spend in class.