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Rural school districts will stick with remote learning

Many schools in rural counties want to keep students at home for now.
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 9:06 PM EDT
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MARTIN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - School districts in rural communities, like Martin County Schools, Tyrrell County Schools and Bertie County Schools, have decided to continue remote learning for their students as they start the new school year.

For at least nine weeks, these schools will stick with this “Plan C,” which is remote learning. No schools in Eastern Carolina will opt for “Plan A”, or in-person learning. However, larger county school districts like Beaufort County Schools will have a mix of in-person and remote learning, which is “Plan B”.

“Overwhelmingly by about 60% to 65% staff and the community preferred Plan C,” explained Amanda Bunch, the public information officer at Bertie County Schools.

Bunch said this plan will avoid challenges they would find with “Plan B,” such as social distancing students on the bus, continuing meal service and having enough staff for proper sanitation.

At the same time, rural areas often have trouble with internet connectivity. Bunch and other school authorities acknowledged this difficulty, saying they are in the process of providing additional “hot spots” and making internet access in their parking lots available to students.

Elizabeth Cobb, a parent has a kindergartner and a second grader in Williamston Elementary, a Martin County School, said she’s grateful for this decision. Her kids have existing conditions, and she was going to keep them at home either way. “Madeline just had open heart surgery in December and I’m not comfortable sending her back yet,” she explained. “Michael has seizures and I don’t want him getting sick and that inducing seizures.”

Oliver A. Holley, the superintendent at Tyrrell County Schools, said it shouldn’t be too different. “We’ve learnt some things from the first remote learning session since March 16th to allow us to improve how we facilitate learning instruction,” he said.

Holley explained that this is the best route for right now, at least. “It’s just giving us additional time to make sure that we can provide the safest learning and working environment for our students,” he said.

Most school districts plan to reevaluate their decision after nine weeks.

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