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Dr. Anthony Jackson, superintendent for Vance County Schools, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Thursday at 11 a.m.
Jackson discussed the Vance County Board of Education’s 5-2 vote at its October 12 meeting to remain in Plan C – fully remote learning – for the remainder of the first semester. The first semester for the 2020-2021 school year is set to end prior to the Christmas holiday.
In July, NC Governor Roy Cooper announced public and charter schools could begin the school year under Plan B – a hybrid of online and in-person learning – or could choose the more restrictive Plan C.
In September, Cooper announced public and charter elementary schools (K-5) had the option to operate under Plan A – in-person, socially distanced learning – beginning October 5.
At its July Board meeting, the Vance County Board of Education voted to begin the year under Plan C, revisit the decision in October and review again in December.
The Board will meet in December to determine if the second semester, starting in January, will begin fully remote under Plan C or move to Plan A or B.
“Our Board is looking at the data and trying to determine the safe integration of students into the school environment,” Jackson explained. “Based on what they understood and were presented with, they thought it would be safer to keep our kids on Plan C until we know a little more about [COVID-19] transmission and local data.”
According to Jackson, the Board also took recent news reports of spikes in COVID cases and hospitalizations into consideration when making the decision to remain in remote learning.
Working with Granville Vance Public Health and Duke University, Jackson said the school system receives daily local COVID updates and seeks guidance from healthcare experts.
“The decision of how to start the next semester will be based on the data available on infection rates, hospitalizations and transmission in the community at that time,” Jackson said. “Our goal is to be back to some form of face-to-face interaction by the second semester. We are still hopeful, but we have to go with what the metrics tell us. Ultimately, the liability rests with them as the Board of Education; they’ve taken that very seriously.”
While seeking improvements to areas such as students’ access to online connectivity, Jackson said the strives are evident. “The positive out of this is that we have set up a remote digital learning framework in this short period of time. We have distributed over 5,000 devices and hotspots to our kids, provided over a half-million meals to this community and supported our teachers with a small model of childcare.”
Acknowledging it’s not the school year anyone expected, Jackson said he is encouraged by the teamwork and dedication on all sides.
“I want to thank our teachers for the work they are doing every day to make sure our kids are okay and learning. I also thank our parents for trusting us. This is not what we had planned, but it is what we have, so we are going to make the best of it.”
To hear the interview in its entirety, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.