JCPS Approves Phased Reopening Plan

Jacob Buchanan, Assistant Superintendent

The Jackson County Board of Education approved a transitional reentry plan for the 2020-2021 school year at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 28. Assistant Superintendent Jacob Buchanan and Chief Academic Officer Angie Dills presented the plan that includes a phased combination of remote and face-to-face learning.

Students will have an opportunity to attend an in-person orientation when Phase 1 begins the week of August 17. Each class will be divided into small groups of students who will attend school on an alternating schedule for the first two weeks to meet teachers and prepare for remote learning. On August 31, most students will transition to remote-only instruction for at least two weeks.

Pre-Kindergarten students and students who receive more than five hours of specially designed instruction per day will attend in-person in small groups on a modified schedule. The Board of Education will meet regularly to assess the situation and determine when the district is ready to move to the second phase of the reentry plan. When approved, Phase 2 will include a combination of remote and face-to-face learning in small groups on an alternating schedule. The transition to face-to-face classroom learning for all students would happen in Phase 3 if approved later in the school year.

The district has spent the past two months poring over data from various sources. “We’ve consulted with the Jackson County Health Director and with members of her team who provided information, guidance, and data to us,” Buchanan said. “We’ve also examined other bits of data that point out transmission rates, likelihood of contact, and other data related to the spread of the virus in our community and the school system’s responsibility to help mitigate that.” On July 14, Governor Roy Cooper announced additional requirements for reopening schools including a change to the guidelines for social distancing inside a school building. “One of the key pieces of data for developing these plans has been the actual capacity of a classroom,” Buchanan said. “The previous model focused on how many kids could fit in the building, but now with social distancing in place, it comes down to the capacity of the classroom.” Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Elliott acknowledged the importance of working together with families to help students reach their full potential while minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. “We are committed to the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Our families are valued partners in education, and we will work together to meet the needs of our children,” Elliott said. Updated information about school reentry plans can be found on the district website at

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