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Many teachers still waiting to get back into classrooms

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The timeline for when and if teachers in the district will be able to return to schools to get their classrooms ready for next year remains unclear.

Most have not been allowed in yet, with some exceptions. Rowan-Salisbury Schools Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann said the district is awaiting an announcement from Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday as to how school will begin next year and more guidance as the district approaches its Aug. 17 start date.

“It’s not that far away at all,” Vann said, noting the state remains in phase two of reopening for three more weeks and that will keep a number of restrictions on public life in place until mid-July

Some staff have been allowed to return to schools with principal approval and following specific guidelines, including if someone needed to retrieve medication or retrieve their belongings if they are leaving the district or transferring to another school.

“We’re working on how to do that as safely as possible, but we’re trying to take our guidance from the state, the governor’s office, in conjunction with our health officials,” Vann said.

There are time limits and, as far as setting up classroom bulletin boards and decorations, that is not happening right now.

Superintendent Lynn Moody has said teachers are anxious to return to classrooms. After classes ended in May, she said classrooms mostly look like they did when teachers left schools in March.

When teachers do get back into the classrooms, the guidelines will be tailored to Cooper’s guidelines. Students and teachers may not return to classrooms at all for the start of the school year. Cooper’s latest executive order requiring face coverings in public went into effect on Friday afternoon.

“That is a possibility,” Vann said. “Cases have risen.”

Returning to remote learning would be one of three options, with the others being a return to classes with social distancing and a return to classes with reduced capacity.

Vann said the safety and well-being of staff and students is the main concern for the district limiting access to buildings. The preference will always be for an extra layer of caution rather than risk people getting sick, Vann said.

“It’s real. It’s a real threat,” Vann said. “More and more people are, unfortunately, testing positive every day.”

On Monday, the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education was told the district recommends staff wear a face covering when social distancing is not possible.

The district is also tackling other social distancing issues anticipating a possible reopening of schools like how to distribute meals to students and allow them to eat while maintaining social distancing guidelines, preventing cash from changing hands, signage and where plexiglass barriers should be.

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