Governor Roy Cooper announced public schools will reopen next month with precautions including mandatory face masks, social distancing, and cleaning protocols. Parents and will also have the option to continue remote learning for their children if they choose. 

“This is the Plan B that we asked schools to prepare,” Cooper said. “It’s a measured, balanced approach that will allow children to attend but provide important safety protocols like fewer children in the classroom, social distancing, face coverings, cleaning, and more.” 

School systems will also have the option of Plan C, continuing remote learning as implemented in the spring if deemed necessary. All districts will prepare to accommodate parents who wish to continue remote learning for their children as well. 

Plan B requires all students, teachers, and staff members to wear face coverings at all times. Districts will be required to limit the number of people in the building to promote social distancing and allow children to sit six feet apart—this might involve a rotating schedule, alternating days or weeks, or other measures that may be unique for each school system. There will be mandatory temperature checks for students before entering the building. Equipment within the schools will be regularly cleaned and frequent handwashing will be built into the daily schedule. 

Outside visitors and things like school field trips will be limited. 

Other recommendations include implementing one-way hallways, promoting lunch in the classroom if cafeteria spaces are cramped, and not holding assemblies that gather large groups of students. 

“We know schools will look a lot different this year,” Cooper said. “They have to in order to be safe and effective.”

If cases continue to spike or precautions are seen to be ineffective, Cooper said the state may need to revert back to 100 percent remote learning. 

In other business, Cooper announced North Carolina will continue to say in Phase 2 for another three weeks after the current mandate expires July 17. That means the earliest we can enter Phase 3 is August 7. 

Mandy Cohen, secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, says cases of the virus and hospitalizations continue to tick upward. Nearly 90,000 people have tested positive for the virus, 1,109 remain hospitalized and 1,552 people have died. 

“We continue to simmer, but we’ve avoided boiling over as many states are now,” Cohen said. 

Read the full guidance on Cooper’s school reopening plan here. 

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