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Students back in class all week March 23

Following approval by the Henderson County School Board today, Henderson County Public Schools will welcome its middle and high school students back on campus Tuesday, March 23, under Plan A – the fully in-person learning model.

This planned transition follows Wednesday’s announcement of the NC General Assembly’s compromise legislation to reopen schools in North Carolina. Signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday, March 11, this legislation allows Grades 6-12 to operate under either Plan A or Plan B.

“Our teachers and staff have worked tirelessly to keep our students connected and engaged throughout Plans C and B, and are thrilled at the opportunity to deepen these relationships in-person in this final stretch of the school year," Superintendent John Bryant said.

On Monday during the regular monthly school board meeting, board members signaled their intent to schedule a special called meeting to consider transitioning all schools to Plan A as soon as was allowable.

Under Plan A, all students will attend school in-person following their school’s “regular bell schedule,” and standard bus transportation schedules. As during regular school operations, breakfast and lunch will be provided to students on campus.

Although 6 feet of social distancing is not required under Plan A, HCPS will continue to follow the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ guidelines for “minimal social distancing,” by marking 6 feet of spacing in high traffic areas,  encouraging physical distancing among students and staff, and limiting nonessential visitors and activities in schools.

Plan A requirements also include wearing face coverings in schools and on buses, frequent hand washing, and daily temperature screenings for all individuals entering school buildings.

“Things will still look different than they did pre-pandemic as we continue to take precautions, but our children will be back in our schools,” said Bryant. “And that is something we have been looking forward to ever since schools closed, almost a year ago to this day.” 

Grades 6-12 will continue operating under Plan B next week (March 15-19), under a modified schedule: Monday, March 15, and Wednesday, March 17, are “A” days for middle and high school students in Group A, and Tuesday, March 16, and Thursday, March 18 are “B” days for those in Group B.

Friday, March 19, and Monday, March 22 will be Required Teacher Workdays in our middle and high schools for the facility preparation and staff planning necessary to bring all students back onto campuses. There are no changes in the existing elementary school schedules under Plan A. 

While operating under Plan A, the district will continue updating the COVID-19 District Dashboard with school-affected cases reported while in-person learning is occurring on campuses. 

Remote option

As with each “Return to Learn” transition, families have the opportunity to decide what’s right for their student and household. Middle and high school students may still attend school fully remotely through the Engage Remote Learning Option (RLO) model, following the traditional 8 a.m.-3 p.m. school day for grades 6-12. 

Following the bell schedule from home means remote middle and high school students will need to be available to teachers during their typical class periods, and teachers will provide balanced engagement. Remote attendance will continue to be recorded based on students’ physical attendance of live virtual class sessions, as well as completion of coursework and assignments through which they demonstrate their attendance and attention. 

Families are asked to confirm with their schools by March 17 whether their child will be attending school in-person or enrolled in Engage RLO.

Instructional “Return to Learn” plans and school system operations continue to be evaluated and refined based on the public health of our community, and district administrators will continue to monitor community health trends and workforce stability. 

Any additional changes will be communicated to HCPS families via the district's “R2L Weekly” updates each Thursday at 5 p.m. and telephone alert messaging. The webpage will also be updated to reflect Plan A details.