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Onslow County students will go back to the classroom in April

The Onslow County School Board voted unanimously to send middle and high school students back to fully in-person learning for the first time in a year.
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 7:53 PM EDT
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - School is finally back in session for students in Onslow County.

After a year of at least some virtual learning, the Onslow County School Board voted unanimously in a special meeting Wednesday to send middle and high school students back to the classroom five days a week.

“You have to make sure they’re excited about studying in front of a computer for five-to-six hours a day,” said Adrianne Huls, whose son is a sophomore at Jacksonville High School. “There is something that you can learn out of this. There is someone who may have it a little worse.”

The grade levels will join elementary students, already scheduled to return to in-person learning on April 6 after the board approved that plan in the fall, in coming back to in-person classes for five days a week on the same day.

#BREAKING UPDATE: Onslow County Schools will move fully in-person. The school board unanimously approved the decision...

Posted by Liam Collins WITN on Wednesday, March 17, 2021

“We wanted to provide some semblance of normalcy before the end of the school year,” said Bob Williams, chair of the school board.

The plan also includes adding two teacher workdays Wednesday, April 21, and Wednesday, May 12.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced earlier this month that school districts can make the move, effectively eliminating the requirement for students to maintain six feet of distance and putting classrooms and buses at full-capacity.

“If we had to compete social distancing in a Plan B, we’re looking at a 50% efficiency or less,” said Steve Myers, Chief Operating Officer at the district. “That’s something that we don’t have the buses for, we don’t have the drivers for.”

Masks will still be required in all classrooms and on all school buses. Transportation also keeps seating charts to help with contact tracing in the case of a positive test result among a student.

Parents who feel uneasy about returning to fully in-person learning can still move to an entirely virtual option. Space is limited though, according to school officials, and they’re encouraging students who have already been participating in limited in-person learning to continue with in-person learning.

“We have almost 4,800 students currently in the Onslow Virtual School,” said Williams. “We’ve got a lot of our numbers down in the classrooms. They would be much higher had we not had initiated a the Onslow Virtual School this year.”

The districting is restricting transfers to the Onslow Virtual School on an as-needed basis.

It’s a weight off the shoulders for parents like Huls, who say it’s a much-needed improvement for her son’s education. She’s ready to step out of playing the role of a parent and a teacher.

“Everything’s going to be around for a while. Our new normal,” said Huls. “And as parents, how are we showing our kids to adapt.”

The district has only reported two clusters of COVID cases, according to school officials, but has not had to close down any schools. They have, however, need to close two classrooms because of reported cases.

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