11 Socially distanced classroom 3Cumberland County Schools will transition to Plan A beginning Monday, April 12. The Cumberland County Board of Education approved the changeover during a recent special meeting. Under Plan A, all students will be eligible to attend class in person on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week. Wellness Wednesday will be an independent remote learning day for all students so school buildings can be cleaned.

School-based virtual learning options remain open to students. Plan A does not require schools to reduce the usual number of students in the classroom. Social distancing is not required on school buses. CCS will continue the process of temperature screening students and others who enter school buildings.

Social distancing protocols will be in effect inside schools and visitor limitations remain in effect. Students, faculty members and staff must wear masks or face coverings in school and on school buses.

All families had the opportunity of deciding if their children would transition to Plan A or switch to full-time virtual learning. Families of students who are currently participating in full-time virtual learning which did not complete preference forms prior to the deadline, will remain remote through May 2021. Students enrolled in virtual academies are not eligible to transfer to other schools in the district at this time and will remain at the virtual academies through May.

School pupils began returning to class earlier this month. They were divided into two groups. Some attended school on Monday and Tuesday. Others returned to classrooms on Thursday and Friday. Schools Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr., acknowledged the time and effort that has been spent making students' return a “safe and healthy one.” Dedicated employees “have worked around the clock to prepare for a hybrid teaching and learning model,” he said. “And we cannot forget the work of our staff members who are making sure we’re prepared to operate safely, effectively and efficiently."

Students, for their part, likely have lost months of learning as they return to classrooms. Most kids yearn for social connection with their peers and teachers, and the pandemic has caused many of them to fall behind. Some lack internet access at home and have resorted to finding nearby school buses outfitted with high-speed Wi-Fi. Cumberland County schools have discontinued the process because buses are on the road again. Lacking access to in-person schooling can also put some children at risk of going without meals or spending increased time with abusive relatives.

Remote learning has exacerbated the institutional harms that were already being inflicted on many families.

Virtual schooling could have a silver lining though: some children may end up being more resilient on the other side of the pandemic. Navigating uncertainty, maintaining hope for the future, and relying on community resources to overcome challenges are skills some youngsters could be developing.

For many students, learning from home can also be healthier than in-person schooling. Deepening their bond with parents, for instance, sets foundations for trust and empathy.

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