Gov. Roy Cooper today extended Phase Two Safer at Home response to the COVID-19 pandemic for another three weeks after the July 17 deadline and announced that schools in the state can open under plans B and C.

Plan B will be the baseline for the state, he said, which allows for in-person learning while requiring face coverings for all K-12 students, fewer children in the classroom, measures to ensure social distancing for everyone in the building, and other safety protocols. 

Plan C would be for all-remote learning.

School districts across the state can choose either plan B or C, he said.

“If virus trends spike, we will return to remote learning,” Cooper said.

Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, N.C. Health & Human Services secretary, said the increasing number of virus cases in North Carolina are still troubling.

“They could change in a blink of an eye,” Cooper said.

In announcing that Phase 2 will continue to Aug. 7, he stressed that studies show overwhelmingly that face coverings help slow the spread of the virus.

“The most important open is the opening of our classroom doors,” Cooper said. “We all want to be done with this pandemic but it’s not done with us.”

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit outlines the updated requirements for Plan B. Districts may choose to operate under Plan C, which calls for remote learning only, and health leaders recommend schools allow families to opt in to all-remote learning. Modifications have been made to Plan B since it was released in June to make it more protective of public health. 

Under Plan B, schools are required to follow key safety measures that include:

  • Require face coverings for all teachers and students K-12
  • Limit the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure 6 feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary 
  • Conduct symptom screening, including temperature checks 
  • Establish a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the school and transportation vehicles regularly
  • Require frequent hand washing throughout the school day and provide hand sanitizer at entrances and in every classroom
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups 
  • Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups 
  • Discontinue use of self-service food or beverage distribution 

In addition, schools are strongly recommended to follow additional safety measures that include:

  • Designate hallways and entrance/exit doors as one-way
  • Keep students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible
  • Have meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups 
  • Place physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

More details can be found in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit. Read the Screening Reference Guide for schools and the Infection Control and PPE Guidance.

Also speaking at the press conference in favor of Cooper’s Plan were Eric Davis, Chairman of the State Board of Education and Dr. Theresa Flynn, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a practicing pediatrician who serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Pediatric Society.

For up to date COVID-19 information, visit the NCDHHS website

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  1. Idiots. Just let them stay home and learn online. This is history in the making. Be safe than sorry. Kids touch things all the time and have you worn a mask all day. It’s suffocating!!!!!!! This isn’t going to work. Then there will be flu and etc. send them all home whenthey have flu temps too ? They aren’t thinking of long term. They can’t even open bars and gyms. And they want to send kids to school ?

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