North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper recently encouraged schools that have been operating virtually to transition their students back to in-person learning.
Other state officials agreed that North Carolina elementary schools could safely move to in-person classes and middle and high schools move to a mix of in-person and virtual classes.
Catawba County and Newton-Conover City Schools are already complying with the governor's wishes. The K-5 students in both systems are doing in-person learning four days a week, along with one virtual learning day. Middle school and high school students in each system attend in-person classes two days a week and do virtual learning for the remainder of the week. These students were split into two groups in order to meet the 50 percent capacity restriction.
Hickory Public middle and high school students are following this model, as well, but not all K-5 students have returned to in-person learning.
The Hickory Public Schools Board of Education had planned to transition all K-5 students to in-person learning after the winter break. In a January Board of Education meeting, the plan changed.
Hickory's K-3 students have returned to in-person learning for four days a week. Fourth- and fifth-grade students have not returned. They continue to attend in-person classes two days a week and take part in virtual learning three days a week.
The Hickory board voted to keep fourth- and fifth-grade students on this routine until further notice during the January meeting. The board will meet again on Monday for a work session beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Grandview Middle School’s auditorium.
Emily Willis is a general assignment and education reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.