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home : news : news May 14, 2021

3/15/2021 8:47:00 AM
Lincoln County Schools Will Return To In-Person Monday

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer


It's back to school with in-person classes for Lincoln County Schools effective next Monday (March 22nd).  On a motion by Christina Sutton seconded by Heather Rhyne, the Board of Education voted 5-2 Monday morning to return to in-person classes for all grades effective next week.  Joan Avery and Todd Wulfhorst voted 'no.'  

The board held a special called meeting Monday morning (March 15th) to discuss Senate Bill 220: The Reopen Our Schools Act, legislation approved last week on unanimous votes by both the NC Senate and House and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper mandating that public schools in North Carolina return to in-person classes in no more than 21 days.  

Supt. Dr. Aaron Allen said he had talked with other superintendents, and two others, like Lincoln County, were considering starting back either on March 22nd or 29th, while others said they are more likely to make the change after Spring Break.

Board chair Mark Mullen said he thought the emotional and social hardship on students caused by not having their regular in-person classes far outweighed concerns over the coronavirus.  In making her motion, Sutton noted that there have been days over the last few weeks when there were no new cases among school-age children.  

Eric Eaker, chief of operations, said that bus routes were already in place and that while there may be some 'kinks' with traffic, transportation should not be a problem.  Dr. Heath Belcher, Assistant Supt, for Curriculum and Instruction, said teachers were told at the start of the second semester in January, that the schools would make the move to full in-person classes as soon as possible.  

Child Nutrition Director Shelly Rhyne said hers will be the biggest challenge, "but we think we can make it happen."  Rhyne said the change will require about seven thousand additional meals being prepared.  She was, by inclusion in Sutton's motion, given authorization to hire more staff without prior approval by the board.  Rhyne noted some other changes she anticipates in operations.   Dr. Allen said elementary students will now eat in the cafeterias, and while some students may still have their lunches in their classrooms, it will be on a pickup basis instead of delivery to reduce the burden on nutrition staff.

The administration has promised a news release from the schools Tuesday afternoon after a meeting with principals with more details of the plan. 

Monday morning's meeting was streamed live on YouTube and recorded.  You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8k3zUFPtDs.  (Please note: the meeting doesn't actually begin until 11 minutes, 24 seconds into the video.)

The Gaston County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday evening (March 15th) that students in Gaston County middle and high schools will return to in-person instruction four days a week starting April 12th. They've been attending school in person two days a week; the other three days have involved remote learning. The new schedule will have students in class Monday-Tuesday & Thursday-Friday with Wednesday a remote learning day so cleaning can be done in the schools.

Students enrolled in Gaston County 's virtual school will remain virtual for the remainder of the school year. Elementary school students already attend school four days per week.

The Catawba County Board of Education also held a special called meeting Monday evening and decided on a four-day in-person schedule, also beginning April 12th.  Catawba County will, however, have Friday as its remote learning day and students will attend in-person Monday - Thursday.


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