North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that public schools can reopen in August under an updated plan that will require face coverings for all in attendance, fewer students in the classroom and other safety measures.

Under Cooper’s directive, schools must operate at a minimum under Plan B as outlined in The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit. Plan B includes a mix of in-school and remote learning. School districts may also choose to open under Plan C, which calls for all learning to be remote.

Some changes have been made to Plan B since it was first released last month.

“The most important opening is that of our classroom doors. Our schools provide more than academics; they are vital to our children’s health, safety and emotional development,” Cooper said. “This is a difficult time for families with hard choices on every side. I am committed to working together to ensure our students and educators are as safe as possible and that children have opportunities to learn in the way that is best for them and their families.”

As for how Plan B will be implemented in Polk County Schools, Superintendent Aaron Greene said that work has already begun toward that end for the upcoming school year, but that the district must await more guidance from state officials before releasing a complete plan.

“NC Governor Roy Cooper announced today that schools will be allowed to open under Plan B this fall,” Greene said. “This will mean more social distancing and more significant mitigation and safety efforts on the part of students and staff. Now that we know what state plan we must operate under we can move forward with our planning process. Even though the announcement was made today we have been informed that more details and clarification regarding the rules and guidelines will be sent to us in the coming days. As we receive this information from the North Carolina State Board and N.C. Department of Public Instruction we will be able to finalize our plans regarding school this fall.

“As I mentioned last week, we will be asking for input via surveys coming out soon to help inform and guide our plans and to give you an opportunity to share your concerns. We know that some of the rules, guidelines and procedures we will be forced to put in place will not be popular or convenient. Still, we have to craft a reopening plan that is safe for students and staff, and that complies with the directives and orders we are given. I want to remind our families that we are continuing the development of our Wolverine Academy that will offer classes and instructional services as an option for families who choose to have students remain at home.

“Finally, I ask for your patience and support as we work to make the best of a very difficult situation. It will take us all working together to get our kids back to school safely and to help them learn effectively. We will all need to be patient, flexible, and supportive of our students and schools. As I said in my last message Polk County Schools stands ready to meet the challenges of the new academic year with you. Please be on the lookout for those surveys and feedback opportunities. We hope you continue to enjoy your summer.”

Among the requirements for Plan B:

  • Face coverings required for every K-12 teacher, staff and student.
  • Six feet of distancing required
  • Daily symptom screenings prior to entering school buildings
  • Regular cleaning schedules established
  • Nonessential visitors and activities involving outside organizations are limited