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Virus gets in way of Mecklenburg classroom return plan

SoVaNow.com / January 20, 2021

As active cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County continue to mount, Mecklenburg County Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols announced Wednesday that elementary students will not return to the classroom Tuesday as originally planned.

“We will delay our return to face-to-face learning to Monday, Jan. 25. As a reminder, this return is only for those elementary and secondary school students who have been with us for face-to-face during the first semester,” Nichols said.

Secondary school students and elementary students who chose to learn virtually at home for the first semester will not return to face-to-face learning until the start of the second semester, Feb. 1, at the earliest.

The school division opted to keep all students learning remotely because of the high number of positive cases in the county. As of Thursday, Emergency Services Coordinator Jon Taylor said the Mecklenburg County had at least 157 known active cases, 18 of which were reported the previous day.

“Of particular significance to our school system is the fact that a number of our employees and students are currently quarantined due to their own positive test result or their close contact with someone that tested positive,” Nichols said.

In preparation for the return to full-time, in-person learning, Nichols said Mecklenburg County Public Schools is now working with the Virginia and Mecklenburg County health departments to plan the vaccination process for school employees. “The first of the two-part vaccination, for those who choose to take it, will hopefully take place in the next two weeks,” he explained.

Mecklenburg County Public Schools shifted to full remote learning on Thursday, Dec. 10 after the number of local COVID-19 cases spiked. Anticipating a further post-holiday surge of cases, MCPS took the additional precaution of planning to remain in remote learning mode through the first two weeks of January.

Nichols called the delayed return to in-person learning a “wise decision,” particularly after the number of positive covid cases in the county and throughout the state escalated significantly in the weeks after Christmas.

Despite high case numbers at this time, Nichols said the school division is moving forward with plans to reopen secondary schools to in-person learning on Feb. 1. Elementary students who had been learning remotely for the entire first semester will also have the opportunity to return to the classroom at that time. Even then, parents will still have the remote learning option available for their children, regardless of grade.

In the meantime, Nichols urged “our MCPS family to take every precaution to stop the spread of this virus.”



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