Assuming continued positive public health trends in the county, BCS students will be returning to classrooms in October, the Bladen County Board of Education decided Thursday.
At its October 1, 2020, special called meeting of the Bladen County Board of Education, board members rejected the superintendent’s proposal to open elementary schools under Plan A and to re-open middle schools under Plan B. Both plans would go into effect beginning on October 19. Instead, a motion was made to amend the superintendent’s proposal to also include bringing back high school students under Plan B. Families of all students will have the option to send their child to school for face-to-face learning or to have their child participate in full semester 100% remote learning.
Our high school administrators will follow up with families with more scheduling details.
The Board also approved for middle and high school athletes and coaches to return to voluntary conditioning workouts beginning October 12.
Under Plan A, all Prek-4th grade students, including exceptional children, can return to school full time four days a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Schools will be closed for in-person instruction on Wednesdays to allow for deep cleaning and disinfecting; teachers and students will be on remote teaching and learning on this day.
Elementary school students (Prek-4th) and staff will be required to follow the state guidelines of the governor’s Plan A, which includes:
- minimal social distancing in classrooms; 6-feet of social distancing in all other school areas (hallways, restrooms, cafeteria, media, office, etc.);
- continued daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols;
- face coverings are required while riding a bus and inside the school;
- daily temperature and screening checks prior to entering the building for students, staff, and visitors; and,
- no required social distancing or passenger limits on the school bus; buses with Prek-5 students can have two passengers per seat; buses that have 6-12 students mixed in with Prek-5 students are only allowed one passenger per seat, with siblings being able to sit together on the same seat; schools only are encouraged, not required to limit the number of passengers as in Plan B.
All students in 5th through 12th grades, including exceptional children, will have the option to return to school under Plan B - AA/BB day or remain in full semester 100% remote learning. The AA/BB day under Plan B which begins October 19, will have students return to school for two consecutive days - Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays - of face-to-face instruction per week; the remaining three days will be for remote learning. Wednesdays will be reserved for deep cleaning and disinfecting; teachers and students will be on remote teaching and learning on this day.
Middle and high school students (5th-12th) and staff will be required to follow the state guidelines of the governor’s Plan B, which includes:
- maintain 6 feet of social distancing in all areas of the school, including classrooms; reduce the capacity of students in the school to adhere to social distancing;
- continued daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols;
- face coverings are required while riding a bus and inside the school;
- daily temperature and screening checks prior to entering the building for students, staff, and visitors;
- limit the amount of out-of-classroom activities (other than recess) by students and teachers, keeping cohort groups together; and,
- limit school bus ridership to one passenger per seat.
Under a proposal submitted by BCSs athletic directors and approved by the Board, high school athletes and coaches will begin Phase 2 of the NCHSAA guidelines for conditioning and workouts. The conditioning and workouts are voluntary, and not mandatory.
The NCHSAA has approved through the end of 2020 cross-country, volleyball, swimming and diving, and basketball to begin their seasons. Starting in January 2021 and through the end of June, men’s soccer, lacrosse, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s soccer, softball, baseball, women’s tennis, track and field, and wrestling will begin their season according to the NCHSAA calendar approved on September 15. The full schedule of athletics can be read here.
During the first week of October, high school coaches will begin contacting students, conducting tryouts, deep cleaning, and disinfecting equipment, and preparing workout schedules. The first day for student conditioning and workouts will be October 12.
For the remainder of the 2020/2021 school year, the Waccamaw Middle School Conference will limit its middle school football games within the home county of conference teams; Bladen schools will play Bladen schools and Columbus and Whiteville schools will play Columbus and Whiteville schools. Other middle school athletics will be played within the Waccamaw Middle School Conference. Conditioning and tryouts can begin as early as December 7 for basketball and cheerleading however, the first games will not begin until January 2021.
BCS’s plan to reopen schools and keep them open depends on whether public health indicators regarding community spread are trending in the right direction. It’s important to remember that at any time, schools may need to transition between plans (from Plan A to either Plan B or C, or from Plan B to Plan C) depending on state and/or local health indicators, staff capacity, and physical and fiscal considerations and limitations.
No one measure supersedes another, and the overall trend lines are more important than specific data points, according to public health officials. The metrics considered include the number of new cases daily per 10,000 persons in Bladen County, the number of new cases within the last 14 days per 10,000 persons in Bladen County, the daily positivity rate in Bladen County as compared to the total number of tests taken and compliance with public health measures in schools by students and staff. The secondary indicators include a downward, 14-day trend in hospitalization rates for COVID-19 in Bladen County and the community’s intensive care unit.
REOPENING GUIDANCE: From NC Public Schools has put together an interactive 'Living Document' that details the current guidance on reopening public schools in our state.
- Summary of the Lighting Our Way Forward 2020 It is LOADED with information and what the state is doing to make sure every child gets the education they deserve, even in the midst of a pandemic. The 'Living Document' has links within it with additional details on specific topics.
- You can read the entire 135-page document on guidance for reopening public schools by clicking HERE
- NC Public Health Toolkit can be read here
- Updated on September 22 to reflect the governor’s announcement of Plan A, the Public Health Toolkit FAQ can be read here
- A Reference Guide for Suspected, Presumptive, or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 can be read here
- Released on August 6, What Families Can Expect When Schools Reopen can be read here
Throughout the next 10 days, schools will be working on their final plans and logistics for what school will look like beginning on October 19. Stay tuned for updates and changes as they happen.
7/24/2020 *updated 9/11/2020
*the full version (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C) of the BCS Reopening Plan is at the bottom of this page
The Bladen County Schools’ Board of Education has released its plan to begin the 2020-2021 school year for students and staff. During a special called meeting on July 23, the Board approved the plan presented by Superintendent Robert Taylor.
The district will open with remote-only learning for students beginning August 17. All remote learning will be required and offer rigor and opportunities equal to what students experience on campus. School districts across North Carolina, including Bladen County, implemented this scenario in spring 2020. Bladen County Schools have continued to refine its remote teaching and learning practices since and are ready and prepared to make this transition. The district’s goal is to transition back to full in-person teaching and learning as soon as it is safe to do so.
This decision to move from an A/B schedule in PreK-4 grades and remote-only in grades 5-12 to now implementing remote-only learning in all grade levels was made based on the guidance the district has received from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the North Carolina Governor’s Office, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). Moreover, issues surrounding safety, funding, transportation, staffing, and logistics created unprecedented challenges.
Remote-only learning will be carried out across all grade levels. The district will expect students to participate in virtual classes based on the guidelines set by each teacher. Remote learning will occur asynchronously and be conducted Mondays through Fridays. Teachers will maintain virtual classroom office hours between 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., allowing students and parents to communicate with them as needed during those times. Teachers will be remotely teaching from their classrooms and other appropriate locations, ensuring equity and fidelity for all students. Student attendance will be monitored and students will receive a report card at the end of the quarter.
The following timeline will be followed but, is subject to change based on the current conditions within the county and the state. In like manner, the governor can at any time change the phase of reopening or closing for the state.
- August 10 - Teachers and staff report to work
- August 17 - First day of remote learning for PreK-12 grade students
- September 14 - Contingent upon state and local conditions and further guidance from the state, the following instructional plan is that blended learning for PreK-4 grade students will come back to the school campus or remote learning continues based on parent request. All other grade levels will remain on remote learning. The schedule would be as follows:
- A group - Mondays and Tuesdays
- Both groups remote learning - Wednesdays
- B group - Thursdays and Fridays
- October 5 - Same as above with the addition of 5-8 grade students coming back to the school campus or remote learning based on parent request
- October 23 - Same as above with the addition of 9-12 grade students coming back to the school campus or remote learning based on parent request
To help ensure students can fully engage in remote learning, the district will provide laptops for those in K-12 grades who do not have reliable access to a computer at home. The annual $20 laptop user fee normally required to be paid by parents is being waived for this school year. Parents will still be required to sign a laptop user contract and will be responsible for damages incurred during the school year. Laptops will be deployed at both the middle and high schools the week before school starts; elementary schools will deploy on the first two days of school. Parents must be present to pick-up a laptop for their child. Schools will contact parents with specific details regarding deployment and pick-up.
The following schedule will be followed for dates and times of laptop deployment:
- Monday, August 10 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at East Bladen, West Bladen, and Bladen Early College high schools (freshmen only - students in grades 10-12 have their laptop as they kept them over the summer)
- Tuesday, August 11 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at East Bladen and West Bladen high schools (freshmen only - students in grades 10-12 have their laptop as they kept them over the summer)
- Wednesday, August 12 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at all middle schools
- Thursday, August 13 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at all middle schools
- Monday, August 17 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m at all elementary schools
- Tuesday, August 18 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at all elementary schools
The district is also exploring options for securing additional Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the county for students so that they have the tools needed to learn remotely. Recently, the district received four hotspot devices thanks to donations from AT&T, Google, and Duke Energy Foundation. The BCS Technology department will be working to identify areas within the county where students are experiencing a connectivity gap and install those devices.
Currently, there are external Wi-Fi hotspots at Bladen Lakes Primary, Bladenboro Middle, Clarkton School of Discovery, East Arcadia Elementary, East Bladen High School, Tar Heel Middle, and West Bladen High School.
Additionally, the BCS Child Nutrition and Transportation departments will provide meals to children daily similar to the summer feeding program. School feeding sites will operate preparing breakfast and lunch meals for students either by curbside pick-up or bus delivery.
Although students will be engaged in remote learning in the short term, the district has a plan for welcoming back students and staff into its buildings once it is safe to do so.