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North Carolina Governor Cooper provides guidance on school reopenings

The governor said that North Carolina schools will be open this fall for remote learning and in-person instruction.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper announced that schools will reopen this fall with the capability for both in-person instruction and remote learning.

The governor laid out a plan that serves as a measured, balanced approach that can limit the number of children in classrooms, while also providing remote learning options for students who choose it.

Cooper explained a few health and safety protocols that will be in place for students, teachers and faculty when schools finally reopen their doors.

He noted these key safety precautions:

  • Face coverings will be required for every teacher, staff and student kindergarten through high school. The state will provide at least five face coverings to every teacher, staff member and student
  • Schools will be required to limit the number of people inside the buildings so that six feet of space is possible between people in classrooms and other parts of the facility
  • Symptom screenings and temperature checks will be required before students and teachers enter school buildings. The state has delivered a two-months supply of thermometers and medical-grade equipment for school nurses.
  • Schools must regularly clean classrooms, bathrooms, hallways, buses and school equipment
  • Teachers will limit the sharing of personal items and school supplies
  • School schedules must allow time for frequent handwashing.
  • Non-essential visitors will be limited.

This approach is what state leaders are calling Plan B, which is a baseline for the state. Cooper strongly recommends that school divisions implement other health protocols like one-way hallways, scrapping school assembles and eating lunch in classrooms of social distancing in the cafeteria isn't possible.

School districts can also choose between two other plans. Plan A introduces the opportunity for schools to fully reopen with in-person instruction whereas Plan C would give schools the option to stick with remote learning only.

Phase Two of North Carolina's state reopening plan was extended to July 17 after the state started seeing a drastic surge in COVID-19 cases within different localities.

North Carolina moved to Phase 2 of its reopening plan on May 22, which was originally set to expire on June 26. It's now supposed to expire at 5 p.m. on July 17.

In Phase Two of Cooper's reopening plan, the state moved from a "stay at home" order to a "safer at home" order, allowing people to leave their homes for a wider range of reasons.

In this phase, people could gather in groups of 10 inside or 25 outside, and eat at restaurants with limited capacity and social distancing. Salons were reopened with requirements for sanitation and physical distancing.

Since North Carolina moved to Phase 2, the state has seen an uptick in cases. On Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 2,000 newly counted cases, which is the second-highest increase the state has seen in COVID-19 cases so far.

From the week of July 5 to 11, more than 1,000 cases were added to the state's count each day.

The NCDHHS also counted 40 more people who were admitted to hospitals Wednesday into Thursday. This marks the highest jump in hospitalizations in the state so far.

RELATED: COVID-19 Live Updates | North Carolina adds more than 2,000 cases Thursday; Overnight, 33 deaths reported in Virginia

In Phase 1, North Carolinians were put under a "Stay at Home" order that directed citizens not to leave their houses except to work at an essential business, buy food or medicine, seek medical care, exercise or worship outdoors, or care for others. 

Restaurants were closed, except for takeout service, and people were asked not to gather in groups of more than 10. Grooming and beauty salons, entertainment venues and fitness centers were closed for business.

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