Return to Face-to-Face Learning Unlikely for DPS Middle, High Schoolers

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Alexandra Marum, Junior Class Editor

For the past four months, students across Durham County have been tackling remote learning under a total shutdown of on-site education. Although moving to virtual learning was a necessary step in ensuring the health and safety of Durham’s student population, this semester has come with many struggles and uncertainties for Durham Public Schools’ administration, teachers, parents, and students. 

An opportunity to change the course of the rest of the academic year arose on Thursday, November 19th, when the Durham Public Schools Board of Education held a meeting to discuss the plan for the second semester of the 20-21 school year. After a lengthy discussion and exploration of topics, the Board voted 4-3 in favor of Plan B. This entails the optional return of K-5 students to in-person learning, while older students would remain remote. The elementary students would return in January 2021 and would assume a hybrid model, with two cohorts attending on Monday and Tuesday versus Thursday and Friday, respectively.

However, there’s a catch: due to the recent surges in COVID-19 cases across North Carolina, the Board will revisit the plan on both December 10th and January 7th. Plan B will only go into effect if coronavirus cases remain below 4% for two weeks. So, potentially, every student across Durham county could remain attending class remotely for the rest of the school year. 

DPS has diligently ensured that if Plan B goes into effect in 2021, a safe, responsible, and aware faculty and building will greet those who send their children back to school. Some features include:

  • Mandatory face masks
  • Touchless thermometer temperature checks
  • Widespread access to hand sanitizers
  • Training for staff on the proper use of PPE and social distancing
  • Smaller bus capacity
  • Designated classrooms equipped with PPE and filtration systems

For more information, visit the DPS website

The board’s decision upset many high school students eager to return to the classroom and school environment. On Durham Public School’s official Twitter account, users expressed discontent with their announcement of Plan B.

Twitter user @WishWorked had this to say about the decision:

“Shame on DPS for this. All it does is shows they do not care about their older students. The spread elementary will cause will delay everyone else going back. I cannot believe this. Utter disappointment.”

Although health and safety will take priority in the school board’s decision, juniors and seniors are uniquely struggling with both a new learning environment and the pressure of planning their futures. Though little is certain, upperclassmen hope their teachers, counselors, and the school board leaders will take their concerns into consideration in the event high schoolers do not return for the rest of the school year.