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NCAE tour stop in Onslow provides school supplies, lesson in boosting morale

The Onslow County School Board will meet Wednesday to decide on transition middle and high school students back to five-day in-person learning.
NCAE bus
NCAE bus(Liam Collins/WITN)
Published: Mar. 13, 2021 at 10:24 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It’s been a year since students were learning entirely in-person.

That could change for districts across North Carolina now that state leaders have found a compromise for the option to return to fully in-person learning.

“We’ve had to basically re-invent what we’re doing and we’ve had to do it on a dime,” said Anne Hardinger, the president for the Onslow County Association of Educators.

A statewide bus tour for the North Carolina Association of Educators’ RV made its stop in Onslow County Saturday to deliver school supplies and a much-needed lesson in boosting morale.

“Bottom line, we want to make sure that we do return to schools but that we do it safely,” said A.J. McIntryre, a field organizer for NCAE.

The Onslow County School Board will meet in a special meeting Wednesday at 10am to discuss plans to return middle and high school students to fully in-person learning.

The board already voted in the fall to transition elementary students to learning five-days a week, but hasn’t done so yet after postponing the date many times because of rising COVID levels over the winter. Those students are planned to begin that schedule next month, the same day the district is discussing beginning five-day learning schedules for the rest of the students in the district.

“More than likely what will happen is that we’re going to have that transition probably happen on the sixth of April,” said School Board Chair Bob Williams. “I think that’s the first school day back after spring break.”

It’s an exciting thought, educators said, but only if it’s done safely.

“We are ready to go back five days,” said Hardinger. “One thing that we are very concerned about at the elementary level is planning time. In order to teach our students well, we have to have planning and prep time. And right now, we have very little of it.”

If the board does move to return to fully in-person learning for the entire district, teachers can do so with a sense of comfort, they added. The state association of educators pushed hard for teachers to be given priority for the vaccine, and they got their wish. Educators were made eligible for the vaccine as of last month.

“It really is a load off your shoulders when you don’t have to constantly worry about taking it home to your family,” said Hardinger.

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