CMS board votes to extend remote learning another month

CMS board votes to extend remote learning another month
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During a Thursday morning emergency meeting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted 8-1 to keep students in remote learning until at least February 15.

Big picture: The decision comes two days after county health director Gibbie Harris issued a directive urging residents to stay home for the next three weeks to lower the spread of coronavirus.

  • The previous plan was for CMS students to return to in-person learning on January 19.

Why it matters: Although CMS superintendent Earnest Winston stressed that the district is ready to safely return, the community is not. The county’s high rate of community spread is what drove the decision to remain in remote learning.

  • The district’s metrics dashboard recommends considering remote learning when the percentage of positive cases is above 10%. According to county data, the percentage of positive cases has been above 10% since late December.
CMS COVID dashboard Jan. 8

CMS’ latest COVID metrics dashboard shows significant community spread.

State of play: A number of private schools, including Charlotte Country Day, temporarily moved to remote learning following the directive.

What’s happening: The district will work with the county health department from February 2-8 to evaluate community spread and decide whether it’s safe for students to return.

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  • Pending board approval, pre-K through 5 (and certain K-8 students with disabilities who qualify for in-person services in addition to K-8 schools) would return on February 15.
  • Middle and high school students (and 6-12 and 7-12 schools) would return on February 22.
  • Teachers would return on the Thursday before their students.
  • All extra-curricular activities, including sports, will pause until February 15.
    • The superintendent made an exception for athletes currently competing in the postseason of their sport.

Zoom in: The district is allowed to provide up to 80 hours of paid leave from CARES Act funding for certain employees, specifically those who can’t work virtually and don’t have work to do without students.

  • The district is also able to extend employee’s FFCRA leave, though employees on leave could impact staffing levels once in-person classes start again.

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