By WECT Staff | February 2, 2021 at 10:59 PM EST – Updated February 3 at 7:20 PM
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The New Hanover County Board of Education met Tuesday evening after Governor Roy Cooper announced earlier in the day it was time to get students back in the classroom.
In the media briefing, Governor Cooper and state health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen urged school districts to let students have the choice to learn in person saying research has shown that with proper safety measures in place, there are low rates of transmission of COVID-19 in primary and secondary schools.
They referenced a study by North Carolina’s ABC collaborative that found there were no cases of student-to-staff transmission.
“The data regarding the performance in many ways is unequivocal. Some of our students are really really hurting and I think the governor is urging schools to take whatever measure they can to try and get our kids back safely,” said Nelson Beaulieu, Vice Chair of the Board of Education.
New Hanover County Commission Chair Julia Boseman, in a letter to Board of Education Chair Stefanie Adams shown to WECT, urged the board to reach out to the state to encourage priority of vaccinations for school faculty and staff to ensure a safe, speedy return to in-person learning for schools.
“To a parent I think teachers are first responders. You know, they are with your child eight hours a day and I just think it’s important that we move them up. Let’s move them up and get them vaccinated and get the kids back to school, but even if we are not able to move the teachers up I think it’s just as important that kids go back to school now,” said Boseman. ” We’ve got to get our kids back to school. We’ve got to put our students first and I think that’s what we’re missing is not putting students first, students first before teachers.”
“I definitely appreciate the advocacy from the commissioners because that is important. Teachers are front line workers, they are critical workers they do a critical job and we should treat them like that,” said Beaulieu.
On Tuesday evening, more than 40 people addressed the board. Most were in favor of moving to Plan A, which is full-time, in-person learning; some were not.
Some speakers urged the board to consider everyone’s health and safety when making a decision.
The North Carolina Association of Educators says it wants Governor Cooper to make teachers eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the month, if he wants students back in classrooms.
Also, the board received information Tuesday saying schools are safe to reopen if the 3 W’s are followed.
After listening to the public’s input, the board decided to table the discussion for a special meeting expected to be held next Tuesday.
They want to see the COVID data from the schools over the next week before making their decision.
Later, parents who support moving to Plan A left the meeting saying this was not very helpful.
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