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60 percent of students going with hybrid plan Monday

About 60 percent of Lenoir County Public School students plan to return to the classroom Monday when the district activates its hybrid learning option and about 40 percent plan to continue with fully remote learning, according to preliminary data from the district’s Family Choice survey completed last week.

The survey also shows that, of those students heading back to the classroom, about 20 percent fewer will ride school buses to and from school than in a year not clouded by concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Four women in face coverings sit around a table talking. The numbers are important, district administrators say, because they allow LCPS to complete plans that meet current restrictions on school and school bus capacity, provide for daily health screenings, allow for the safe movement of students at school and determine how to allocate teachers’ time between in-person and online instruction.

“We are pleased to be able to give our families a choice of instructional programs,” Superintendent Brent Williams said. “In this current environment, face-to-face instruction and remote learning can and should exist side-by-side and be accorded equal value. School districts that do a good job with each of those options are seeking to do the best job possible for all their students and parents.”

About 98 percent of LCPS students are represented in the survey results, a response rate that Williams called “impressive.”

District-wide, 58.8 percent of students chose the hybrid plan, which combines two days of face-to-face learning with three days of remote learning, and 41.2 percent chose the fully remote option. The numbers are considered preliminary while school-level data managers weed out responses submitted in error; the error rate is not expected to materially change the survey’s results, according to the district.

Preference for either face-to-face or remote learning varied among the district’s 17 schools and, in some schools, by grade level. A complete breakdown of the data by school and grade can be found at this link

Although the Lenoir County Board of Education decided in late July to reopen school on Aug. 17 with remote learning only, as did most public school districts in the state, LCPS has been preparing for months to safely bring students back in classrooms while also maintaining its commitment to remote learning – moving personal protective gear and sanitizing supplies to schools and using federal and state funds and community donations to acquire hotspots to aid students without reliable internet access.

While retaining the fully remote option, the school board voted earlier this month to also provide families the choice of the hybrid plan. Monday will mark the first time LCPS students have been physically present at school since mid-March, when the state suspended in-person instruction for public schools and the district shifted to remote learning.

Face-to-face instruction will resume with specific measures instituted as precautions against transmission of Covid-19. Masks are required on buses and at school in accordance with the state guidelines. Students and staff will be screened and have their temperature checked when they arrive at school. All meals will be delivered to and consumed in students’ classrooms.

The school day begins at 8 a.m. and instruction ends at 2 p.m. Teachers will do remedial work with students between 2-3:30 p.m. but the extra time at the end of the day will also allow for more deliberate movement of students to buses and car-rider pickup lines, important because of the need to keep groups of students small.

Hybrid plan students are divided into two cohorts. LCPS has made efforts to keep siblings in the same cohort and has announced to parents that they will receive information about their student’s cohort, class schedule and, if applicable, bus schedule by the end of the week.

Cohort A students attend school for face-to-face instruction on Monday and Tuesday. Cohort B students attend school for face-to-face instruction on Thursday and Friday. Both groups of students will receive remote instruction when not face-to-face. Wednesday is a remote learning day for all students and a day of deep cleaning at the schools.

Students whose families chose the fully remote option will continue with five-day-a-week virtual instruction, albeit with some changes from the remote learning schedule with which LCPS began the school year. These students are also being assigned to cohorts and will attend live class sessions via Zoom on their cohort’s schedule.

The school week will combine these live sessions with recorded, or asynchronous, lessons and assigned work.

Students who chose the fully remote option committed for a full nine-week grading period, which will take them to the end of the first semester and Christmas vacation.

Students who are not represented in survey responses have been assigned to the hybrid option. They are allowed to transfer to the fully remote option at any time.

On days when they are not at school, all students are eligible to receive free hot lunch and next-day breakfast through curbside pickup at 15 traditional schools – all but Lenoir County Early College High School and Lenoir County Learning Academy, which do not have kitchens.

More specific information on both the hybrid plan and fully remote option can be found at the LCPS website, www.lcpsnc.org.

Photo caption:

Northwest Elementary School kindergarten teachers, seated from left, Phillis Pearsall, Lisa Jernigan and Paige Herring and first-grade teacher Connor Potter coordinate plans for virtual and face-to-face instruction Thursday afternoon at school. About 54 percent of the school students will remain fully remote learners and 46 percent will return to the classroom Monday when LCPS activates its hybrid learning option.