Hello MGSD families,
We are sure many of you are aware that Governor Cooper held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in which he strongly encouraged all K-12 public schools to provide in-person learning based upon guidance outlined in an updated version of the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit. The legal requirements to choose from Plan A, Plan B and Plan C did not change from the December 4, 2020, version of the toolkit. The Toolkit now says the following:
K – 5 students “should” return to in-person instruction 5 days per week “to the fullest extent possible while following all public health protocols” in the Toolkit using Plan A (i.e. symptom screening and mask-wearing requirements remain in place, however, 6 feet social distancing is not required);
6 – 12 students “should” return to in-person instruction 5 days per week “to the fullest extent possible while following all public health protocols” in the Toolkit using Plan B (i.e. 6 feet social distancing is required, in addition to symptom screening and mask-wearing requirements);
School districts continue to “have flexibility in how they choose to operationally implement the public health requirement in this toolkit.”
In summary, the new Toolkit contains a preference for school systems to select Plan A for K – 5 and Plan B for 6 – 12. School districts continue to be prohibited from using Plan A for 6 – 12. Thus Plan B social distancing requirements for 6-12 will likely limit the number of students that may be able to physically attend on the same day. For MGSD, this would preclude our students in grades 6 through 12 from attending more than one to two days per week.
In addition to the press conference, the NC Senate also introduced Senate Bill 37 that, if passed into law, would require all K-12 public schools to offer students in-person instruction under Plan A (100% of students on campus with no social distancing requirements) or Plan B (up to 100% of students on campus while strictly adhering to 6 ft. social distancing requirements while students are in classrooms, in cafeterias, waiting in lines, etc.). That being said, there are still many questions that need to be answered as the Governor's request and SB 37 contain different requirements. Indications are that there will be a final vote on SB37 toward the end of next week after it moves through the legislative process. At this time, however, we do not know what the final language of that legislation will be should it pass. This makes knowing how MGSD will respond a bit more challenging.
We realize yesterday's press conference created many questions and concerns for our staff and parents. We wanted to let you know where we are in responding to these new and potential recommendations and requirements. At our February Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, 2/9/2021, at 6:00pm, our school board will discuss our current plan and possible adjustments to that plan. As always, you are welcome to attend (agenda linked here).
We understand that some of our staff and parents want to see all of our students attending school in-person five days a week. We also understand that some of our staff and parents will want us to remain under our current plan due to concerns related to the Coronavirus. Both have valid points supporting their positions. While we cannot give our plans moving forward tonight, we hope you know that we will thoroughly consider all of the factors, while looking at guidance from the state, and will make a decision that we believe best serves all involved as a whole.
Thank you and please reach out with any questions.