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Kannapolis City Schools wraps up first week of plan A for elementary schools

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS – Kannapolis City Schools sent most of its elementary students to school four days this week with few hiccups.

KCS Superintendent Chip Buckwell said there were a few late buses at the beginning of the week, but those problems were expected and were ironed out by the end of the week with some additional trips.

Non-virtual students are now on a five-day schedule, but they only went four this week because the schools closed on Election Day. Some of them served as polling sites.

Buckwell said the district has stuck with the same procedures as when it began classes on Aug. 17, but he noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently broadened its definition of an exposure to COVID-19, so the district is anticipating more precautionary quarantines whether there is an increase in infections or not.

Buckwell said he is always concerned about safety of students, and the district would be lucky not to see an increase of cases in schools just because the number of cases in the community are climbing.

Buckwell said he think’s the district’s decision to bring students back was correct and noted the district can reverse the decision quickly if necessary, though he thinks the district has done what it needs to.

Fed L. Wilson Elementary School Principal Mandi Campbell said the transition has been smooth and seamless.

“It’s been fantastic,” Campbell said.

Campbell said there were no unforeseen problems, but the school now has to be more mindful about its procedures, making sure every student’s temperature is taken, and keeping track of hand sanitizing.

Campbell said more students are car riders as well because parents may feel comfortable sending their students to school but maybe less so with buses.

Madison Hipp, a second grade teacher at Fred L. Wilson Elementary School, said she has always felt safer at school than locations outside of her home and noted the school is taking all the precautions necessary to give the coronavirus the respect it deserves.

That includes, in addition to masks, social distancing, hand sanitizing, cleaning high-touch surfaces throughout the day and sanitizing the building every night. Buckwell noted the district has not recorded a single infection spreading within one of the district’s schools.

Campbell said she is concerned about the well-being of the teachers, but is confident the faculty will make sure students get exactly what they need.

“I am hesitant to say I am worried,” said Campbell, a mother of four, said. “As an educator we naturally worry about children every day for various reasons, but I feel like it’s the safest place for kids to be.”

Hipp said having students in class leads to intangible moments and the ability to read confusion or understanding on a student’s face. Other moments are more tangible. She said when students first saw each other everyone got their own cheer as they walked in the door.

“If you didn’t know we were 25% remote, you’d think school was running like it was a year ago,” Buckwell said. “Except you see the masks, the hand sanitizer and the thermometers. You know something is different, but when kids are in classrooms it looks like a regular day. It looks like school.”

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