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Kannapolis elementary students will return to full, in-person classes Nov. 2

KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis City Schools will resume five days of in-person instruction for elementary students at the beginning of November after the district board approved a plan from district administration on Monday. The decision was unanimous.

Families will still be able to choose all-virtual, but the current two days a week in two cohorts will go away and be replaced by five days of in-person instruction on Nov. 2.

KCS Superintendent Chip Buckwell said the plan was created to allow the district to ease back into having students in classes full time. Nov. 3 is election day, and Veterans Day is the next week. There will be no classes on either day and only one full week of classes before Thanksgiving.

“We thought it was as strategic as you could get,” Buckwell said.

Gov. Roy Cooper gave districts the option to choose plan A for elementary schools beginning Oct. 5 after a Sept. 17 announcement.

Buckwell said the district considered keeping a cleaning and teacher work day as part of the schedule, but felt planning periods for teachers coupled with all students being on the same schedule will be sufficient.

KCS Board Chair Todd Adams said he is a proponent of getting kids back in schools safely as soon as possible.

“I think it is important that kids are in school and have face-to-face interaction,” Adams said. “Teachers have been doing a great job preparing and delivering remote instruction, but there is just no substitute for having that student in the classroom. I worry about students who are at home alone.”

Adams said he was surprised when Cooper made the announcement schools could return to plan A, and thought it would wait until after the holiday break.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools has yet to make a decision on bringing back elementary students full time, though Cabarrus County, which was all remote, is planning for students to return four days a week in October.

Young children are thought to be less likely to contract, spread or become seriously ill due to COVID-19. The state has seen a limited number of COVID-19 clusters in schools since classes began in August, and KCS has no clusters. Buckwell said the district has also traced its handful of cases to events outside of schools.

Adams said part of the reason the district was successful under plan B was because the plan was well thought out before the district executed it.

“I think our district was a leader in plan B,” Adams said. “I think we will be a leader in plan A as well, but being a leader doesn’t always mean being first. Being a leader means doing things the right way.”

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