CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will make an official announcement on the reopening of schools Tuesday, after delaying the announcement July 1.
The governor will address the situation Tuesday at 3 p.m. and present plans for K-12 public schools.
The decision will come as North Carolina sees record-high virus hospitalizations and an alarming spike in cases.
Cooper is also expected to provide an update on the state’s Executive Order, which ends on Friday, July 17.
“We want our children back in school safety. And we’ll have an official announcement next week,” Cooper said Thursday. “Our trends are not where we want them to be right now.”
Some schools in North Carolina are scheduled to start in July, and officials are asking those schools to conduct remote learning until the decision is made for in-person learning.
WATCH LIVE | NC COVID-19: Gov. Cooper is discussing how North Carolina is handling the coronavirus as the state reports record hospitalizations and more than 2,000 new cases. More than 79,000 have now tested positive for the virus across NC » https://bit.ly/2ZS5HFl
Posted by WBTV News on Thursday, July 9, 2020
“All the efforts that we make, we’re trying to make sure that we can get this economy humming again,” Cooper said Thursday.
On June 24, Cooper announced that residents would be required to wear face masks in public and that the state’s Phase 2 would continue for three more weeks, through July 17. “When we make an announcement on schools next week, we’re certain to talk about face coverings,” Cooper said Thursday.
Cooper says state leaders are working on plans regarding how students and teachers will move forward if they’re exposed to COVID-19.
“We want close contacts to stay home and stay quarantined for 14 days,” North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said of teachers and students. “Close contact,” Cohen says, means being within six-feet with a confirmed positive case for more than 10 minutes.
K-12 schools in the state are required to report coronavirus outbreaks (two or more cases) and clusters (five or more cases).
“This is a tough call. How to open up schools is something that every single state, every single governor, is struggling with,” Cooper said, following a call with other governors.
In early June, the state released the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit that laid out essential health practices for schools to re-open safely, the governor said.
Schools were asked to prepare three plans.
The first plan is in-person learning with key health and safety rules in place. The second plan is the same as the first plan, but with fewer children in the classroom at one time. And the third plan is virtual learning for all students.
Cooper says district and school administrators are still working on ways to implement those plans, and state officials are asking them to keep using this time to work with teachers, staff, parents and public health officials to make sure that schools are opening in the safest possible way.
In June, the governor said he wanted schools to be open for in-person instruction by August, stressing the importance of the classroom for students.
“Let me be clear: We want our schools open for in-person instruction in August. The classroom is the best place for children to learn. Recent reports recommend it, and I know many parents and children agree,”Cooper said in June. “School is where children learn academics, but it’s also how they build the social skills, get reliable meals, stay physically fit and really become tomorrow’s leaders.”
The governor says his priority is opening classroom doors. He encourages public schools to continue planning, with a special focus on how teachers, staff, and students can best be protected – especially those who are high-risk.
The state’s Emergency Management and public health staff began delivering a two-month supply of medical-grade protective wear to schools across North Carolina. These supplies will go to school nurses and staff who provide health care to children.
North Carolina has also given school districts access to statewide contracts so they can more easily purchase other health and hygiene supplies like cloth face coverings and hand sanitizer for their staff and students.
Cooper continued to stress residents to wear a face covering, wash their hands, and wait six feet apart.
“Sticking to these safety rules now will help get schools back open safely. It will help stabilize our numbers, keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed and at the end of the day – it will help save lives. We have the power, and we can do this together,” Cooper said.
President Donald Trump threatened to hold back federal money if school districts across America don’t bring their students back in the fall.
State leaders also touched on the concern over hospital capacity in regards to COVID-19, particularly in Charlotte.
“We are paying close attention particularly to our hospitals in the Charlotte area,” Cooper said. “Please continue to treat this virus that the deadly threat that it is.”
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