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Cumberland County Schools are expected to start the 2020-2021 school year remotely, as the Superintendent will request that option at Tuesday meeting.

Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. will recommend CCS students start the school year under the Plan C remote-learning approach. Dr. Connelly is expected to seek Board of Education approval for the move in a specially-called meeting Tuesday.

“The safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” Dr. Connelly said. “Over the last few days, we have received several health and safety concerns about the opening of schools. As promised, we have continued to monitor the situation and will use data to make informed decisions for our students and staff, in consultation with local health officials.”

Cumberland County issued an e-mail to all of the school board members calling for the meeting that said, “The Board will consider a recommendation from the Superintendent to adopt Plan C (remote instruction only), as allowed by the Governor’s July 14, 2020 announcement regarding schools.”

The decision comes as Gov. Roy Cooper issued guidance this week for how schools could choose to reopen under the increasing numbers of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. State guidance said that schools should plan for reopening under a Plan B hybrid in-person and remote learning option, but that if local districts felt it necessary, using Plan C for remote learning was allowable. The school year is set to begin on August 17.

Cumberland County had voted to at least begin work to see how opening under Plan B would go, with parents submitting their desire to have their students in the hybrid model, the remote model, or the new Cumberland Virtual Academy. Specifics could not be worked out until the district had an idea for how many parents would seek remote options for their children.

“Delaying the implementation of Plan B (Blended Face-to-Face and Remote Instruction) until later in the school year will provide more opportunities for us to watch coronavirus trends in Cumberland County and prepare to tackle the challenges of executing such a model,” Dr. Connelly said.

During the July 9 specially called Board of Education meeting, the board was told that much would depend on the number of students who parents wanted to have in the school buildings, in terms of transportation issues, and social-distancing issues.

There had been concern with the legality of opening the school year remotely, as year-round schools had to abruptly alter their schedules at the last minute. Gov. Cooper said during this week’s press conference that the legal challenges had been clarified, and schools would be allowed to begin the year remotely if necessary.

CCS is asking parents to please still fill out the re-entry enrollment form through Sunday. “If the Board decides to move forward with Plan C, data received from the survey will help district officials plan for a possible shift to Plan B later in the school year as the spread of the virus subsides,” a release from CCS said.

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Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.