Following a lengthy discussion, the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Board of Trustees voted 6 to 2 Tuesday night to allow all students to return to in-person learning on March 16, 2021.
Pre-K through 5th grade will return to the classroom five days per week using the same plan from the first semester. Grades 6 to 8 will attend five days a week on alternating weeks in two cohorts. Cohort A will attend odd weeks and Cohort B will attend even weeks. Grades 9 through 12 will be divided into two cohorts with Cohort A attending in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays and Cohort B attending in-person on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would be a virtual day for all students. Teachers would also be able to use that time to schedule live sessions with virtual-only students. All students, staff, and families will be expected to adhere to the 3Ws (wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing) at all times while on school campuses. Families will continue to have the choice to keep their students virtual if that is what they determine best fits their needs or is warranted for their safety.
“I’m confident the plan approved by our Board will be carried out with fidelity and will serve our students well. This continues to be a complex situation to navigate for everyone. I want nothing more than for all of our students to be in our buildings five days a week. Per our recent survey, 169 staff members expressed interest in getting the vaccine. Many of them feel unsafe and worried about coming to school without a vaccine but are willing to return. That says a lot about our staff and their dedication to our students,” said Dr. Dain Butler, Superintendent.
Halifax County Health Director Bruce Robistow joined the Board for the virtual meeting. Robistow said, “We’ve been vaccinating aggressively in the county. So far we’ve administered 5,628 vaccines. Counties that have smaller populations of those 65 and over have been able to move ahead to other groups to get them vaccinated. We will work with the school system to get those teachers vaccinated as soon as we can.”
Transportation will also look differently under this plan. The revised State mandates only allow one student per seat unless they are members of the same household for those in grades 6 through 12. This will mean longer and possible multiple transportation routes due to capacity.
“We will revise our transportation schedule in the coming weeks. We also still want our families to be mindful, should we have a cluster or a high number of COVID-19 cases in our classrooms, we will be forced to quarantine those students and possibly shut down classes, grade levels, or schools based on State guidelines,” Butler added.