Survey another step in school planning


The picture is still unclear as to what schools will look like when they reopen on Aug. 17. During Monday night’s Macon County Board of Education meeting, few questions were answered.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper chose to reopen schools under the state’s “Plan B” on July 9. It’s the format of “Plan B” that is still up in the air.

In Highlands, it’s possible that the school year may begin with all students in class five days per week based on the school building square footage and student enrollment numbers. Alternately, if Highlands can’t open as usual with increased social distancing of students, a variety of scheduling options are still in play.

Superintendent Chris Baldwin noted that the school district would be sending out a survey via email to parents and teachers/administrators in coming days to gather input on the reopening options.

A preliminary survey, sent out in June, showed that approximately 85 percent of parents and 85 percent of teachers preferred a return to in-class instruction as of Aug. 17. Baldwin pointed out that survey was a valuable tool in the planning process, but added that parents and teachers feelings may have changed in the past month due to the rise in COVID-19 cases locally, statewide and nationally.

While it may appear as if the school district is dragging its feet by doing a second survey before making a final decision on the format of school reopening, it’s important to realize the unique situation the administration is in.

Because Gov. Cooper waited until July 9 to pick “Plan B” it created a short window for local school boards, which typically meet once a month, to get their ducks in a row prior to Aug. 17. With a variety of school formats on the table, it’s smart to get the thoughts of parents regarding the implementation of “Plan B.”

Parents need to be aware of the school options and their impacts on transportation, childcare and nutrition.

No decision regarding the implementation of “Plan B” is going to please everyone, so trying to get a majority opinion is the right path forward.