Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools gave authority Nov. 24 to Superintendent Earnest Winston to shift individual schools from in-person to remote learning as needed through June 30 to ensure the health and safety of students.
School board member Thelma Byers-Bailey made the motion on the condition of three circumstances:
• If the county health department directs an individual school building be closed for COVID-19.
• When district staff believe remote learning is needed.
• When the superintendent determines staffing levels prevent the school from providing a safe environment.
“It’s important that we be as nimble as possible during this time when community levels of the virus are steadily increasing and fluctuating,” Byers-Bailey said.
Otherwise, the school board would have to convene for a series of emergency meetings.
Sean Strain asked Winston to walk school board members through scenarios in which he’d shift schools to remote learning.
“I want to make sure that operationally that we are not sort of setting ourselves up to consistently go back and forth between in-person learning and remote instruction and that we’re doing everything possible to maintain that in-person learning experiences for our students,” Strain said.
Winston replied that a scenario may involve staff members who are not only testing positive for COVID-19 but also those required to quarantine due to being in close contact with someone with the virus.
“What we’re seeing by in large is the number of staff members who are having to quarantine is really what is impacting staff levels,” Winston said.
Board member Margaret Marshall suggested it might be advantageous for CMS to have an entire grade level go remote as opposed to the entire school, but her colleagues were concerned about drafting a complicated motion on the fly that could lead to unintended consequences. Byers-Bailey said it took quite a bit of “draftsmanship” to craft her motion.