The North Carolina Legislature, in cooperation with Governor Roy Cooper, recently authored and ratified Senate Bill 220 that allows schools to return to Plan A instruction. The bill still requires a remote learning option for those students and families who do not feel safe returning in person.

The bill was signed last Friday and contains several requirements for schools wishing to move to Plan A. We hope to receive specific guidance and details soon from the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction on what will be required to make such a transition. I want to be clear our current approach to in-person instruction meets all the requirements of this bill.

As you know, Polk County Schools has been as open as we have been allowed for all grade levels since August of this school year. Our elementary schools and Polk County Early College are currently operating on Plan A, with in-person learning five days per week. Because of social distancing requirements, our middle and high schools are operating on a Plan B hybrid with in-person instruction four days each week at Polk Middle and two days per week with two separate groups at Polk High.

This new bill gives local districts the flexibility to move to Plan A for students in grades 6 through 12. Safety procedures and protocols must remain in place under Plan A, with the exception being social distancing, which can now be relaxed. This could potentially allow students in high school to return in larger numbers for more days each week.

The Polk County Board of Education will hold a specially called meeting on Thursday to discuss SB 220 and a potential return to Plan A for grades 6 through 12. Any approved change will require time to implement, and we will know more about what this might look like once we receive more information from our state agencies and officials.

Throughout the pandemic we have asked for your patience and understanding as we work through changing guidance and circumstances. It has served us well to take things one step at a time and to be sure we are ready before acting. I ask you for that patience once again as we navigate this latest development. We will keep you updated regarding our schedules and status.