All North Carolina public schools will be required to offer in-person learning by the end of March, the NC State Board of Education said. Board members voted on the new COVID-19 safety measures to reopen schools Thursday.
Many school districts have already brought students into classrooms based on individual coronavirus safety guidelines. However, the vote ensures all students will return to in-person learning. Some have not seen the inside of a classroom for more than a year.
“The governing boards of all North Carolina public school units should resume providing all students enrolled in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade with the option of in-person learning to the fullest extent possible consistent with the guidelines in the North Carolina Strong Schools Toolkit and the health and safety needs of the students, beginning no later than the end of March of 2021,” board members said in a release.
The new safety guidelines will require face coverings for all students, and six feet of social distancing for grades six and up, according to the release. The Board of Education said vaccine research and distribution played a part in the decision. COVID-19 vaccines became available statewide for school faculty on Feb. 24.
“Scientific understanding of the methods of transmission of the COVID-19 virus has advanced significantly since the public schools of North Carolina closed for in-person learning in March of 2020,” the board said.