Cleveland Co. Teachers Worried About K-4 Return to Full In-Person Learning

SHELBY, N.C. – Teachers in Cleveland County are raising concerns about a plan to move K-4 students to full in-person learning.

The Cleveland County School Board will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday night.

“I wanted a way for people to be able to have their voices heard,” says Amanda Buchanan, media specialist at Shelby Intermediate School.

She’s started a petition asking Cleveland County School Board members to reconsider plans to return some students to full in-person learning.

Currently, Kindergarten through 4th grade students are set to move to “Plan A” on January 19th, a group that includes Buchanan’s daughter.

“I know that if there are 22 to 25 children in her fourth grade classroom, there is no way that there will be six feet between those 25 children,” she says.

The county is in red on the latest county alert system map, meaning critical community spread.

“We’re definitely concerned about COVID but you know if you need a surgery, break a leg, have a car accident, you have a heart attack, it is time for our community to help one another,” Buchanan says.

Currently 42 Cleveland County residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 and there have been 146 deaths.

“We want to see students return to school, but we want it done safely,” says Nicole Benfield, a 4th grade teacher at Boiling Springs Elementary.

She and other teachers agree students need to be in the classroom, but say this is not the time for “Plan A.”

“I feel like the board needs to focus more on our county positivity rate and the spread of the virus, which is out of my control, instead of trying to nail down a start date,” she says.

Currently students here are in the classroom two days a week, with three days remote, and concerned teachers say they want to keep that approach until the metrics improve.