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JEFFERSON — Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Sept. 17 his latest decision to ease restrictions for schools related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his announcement, North Carolina school districts will be allowed to choose to operate under Plan A for K-5 students, effective Oct. 5.

Ashe County Schools is currently operating under Plan B, which is a hybrid model of remote learning three days each week with two days of in-person instruction. There are also students enrolled in the district’s completely virtual option, Ashe Online.

In a Connect5 message to Ashe County Schools families on Sept. 17, Superintendent Dr. Eisa Cox briefly discussed the district’s response.

“Ashe County Schools will be intentional and thoughtful in the decision for our students, staff and families returning to school under the Plan A option for these grade levels,” Cox said in the message.

She added that the school system will continue to follow health and safety guidelines provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. They will also accept input from teachers, key staff members and parents to determine when and how to transition back into school buildings.

Cox said as a district they are aware that they have to take into account many different aspects in order to safely return to school buildings including cleaning protocols, meal preparation and distribution and transportation. There will be other considerations for a transition to Plan A such as potential class reassignments due to increased capacity, availability of substitute teachers and additional supplies and cleaning PPE for staff.

The school system is in the process of creating surveys for staff and parents to determine what will be needed to send current Plan B students to school under Plan A.

ACS also provided a K-5 Plan A survey for families with elementary school students the weekend of Sept. 18. The purpose of the survey was to receive feedback to be used in the planning process for implementation of Plan A. It can be accessed by visiting the website of the elementary school in which a student is enrolled.

The survey contains questions such as how many K-5 students parents have enrolled with ACS, whether or not the students currently attend under Plan B or Ashe Online and if bus transportation is needed.

At this time, ACS will continue to adhere to Plan B for grades six through twelve while also upholding their commitment to Ashe Online students.

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