CMS settles on in-person back to school plan

CMS plans to integrate multi-step plan to have highschool students back in the classroom by December.

Story by Joys Lutwangu and Gabe Stanton

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced their plan to have students return to in-person instruction after a special meeting of the Board of Education on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Under the current plan, students will be returning in phases this fall over the course of 12 weeks, starting on Oct. 12.

CMS had been reviewing plans for in-person instruction since COVID-19 began to spread across Mecklenburg County in March. Currently, all CMS students are operating under Plan C (full-time virtual learning). But many have felt that virtual learning was inadequate, particularly for beginning grade levels and students with special needs. For this reason, CMS was discussing a transition to Plan B, in which students would rotate through groups for physical instruction.

Under the “CMS Phased Return to In-Person Instruction,” students will return to school on a rotational basis based on their grade. Each student has been assigned to Group A, B or C, and will only attend in-classroom instruction on the weeks assigned to their group. On all school days that they are not in the classroom, students will do remote learning.

Pre-Kindergarten students will begin to return to in-person instruction on Oct. 12. Three weeks later, on Nov. 2, K-5 students will begin to return. Middle school students will follow three weeks later, on Nov. 23. Finally, high school students will return on the weeks of Dec. 14 and Dec. 21 for testing. According to the Phased Return plan, Plan B will be fully phased in by the first school day of 2021, on Jan. 5.

CMS says that they will continue to keep track of the situation, and has released a series of guidelines meant to maintain student safety. These guidelines also include circumstances that could require a transfer back to Plan C for some or all students. These circumstances are based on public health, case monitoring, district operation, and school readiness.