FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES
Wake County Public Health is providing free public COVID-19 tests in east Raleigh Friday and Saturday. Tests are happening at the Sunnybrook building parking deck on Holston Lane from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You must register on the Wake County Public Health website to get a test.
Durham Public Schools and Johnston County Schools made big rulings for students and families in their districts on Thursday. Durham students will remain online for the remainder of the first semester, after a vote 6-1 vote by the DPS Board of Education on Thursday night. Johnston County Schools will have a staggered fall semester reopening.
Wake County Pubilc School System will hold a vote next week on the next steps for its reopening.
Durham students will remain online for the remainder of the first semester, after a vote 6-1 vote by the DPS Board of Education on Thursday night.
Fully remote learning, ‘Plan C’, will be used through Jan. 15 for traditional and year-round schools, and Dec. 23 for specialty high schools.
With the extended remote learning, DPS says it is working to make learning easier while awaiting in-person instruction.
“We are going to make Plan C better,” Superintendent Pascal Mubenga wrote in a statement. “Our community and teachers are not all of one mind, but right now most families and teachers still have deep concerns about COVID-19. We are continuing to work with our health department and medical experts to identify the best, safest time to re-open for in-person instruction. Our students need in-person instruction, but parents and teachers need to be confident that our community is ready. I will always consider their health and safety first.”
Families can continue online instruction through the DPS Ignite Online Academy or go back to socially distant in-person instruction (“Plan B”). DPS will open up registration for Ignite Online Academy on Monday, Sept. 28.
DPS will have a unified lunch time for all schools to help families with students at multiple schools, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Some Johnston County elementary school students will be returning to class in waves before a full reopening during the fall semester.
The week following, on Oct. 12, all kindergarten students will have the ability to return to class. First and second-grade students will have the ability to return on Oct. 19, followed by grades third through fifth on Oct. 26. For those who do not feel comfortable returning yet, Virtual Program will remain in place until the end of the first semester.
As for middle and high school students, they will begin a staggered schedule starting Oct. 19. Those students will learn remotely on Wednesdays.
UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz discussed plans for returning to on-campus learning during a UNC Board of Trustees virtual meeting on Thursday.
FULL STORY HERE: UNC-CH may delay start of spring semester because of COVID-19
The chancellor expects the start date to be delayed from Jan. 6 to Jan. 13 or Jan. 19.
He said an announcement will be made in the next two weeks.
A popular holiday light event in Johnston County will not happen this year because of COVID-19.
Meadow Lights is a large family-owned Christmas light show located outside of Benson that has been happening annually for more than 40 years.
However, Meadow Lights will not open in 2020
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent spread of the virus we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Christmas light show and the opening of our candy store for the 2020 season,” the business said in a social media post.
“We will miss seeing everyone but look forward to a bigger and better 2021 season. Stay safe and please come see us next year.”
UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the start date for the spring semester will be delayed.
Students are currently scheduled to return on January 6, which Guskiewicz said was the earliest return date he remembers in his time at UNC.
Due to COVID-19, the semester is likely not going to start until January 13 or 19. Guskiewicz said there will be an official decision on the start date in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the university is working on plans to bring students back to campus. Although it’s unclear if the campus will be operating at full capacity come January.
“Our hope is that we will bring students back to live and learn on campus this spring semester,” Guskiewicz said. “We will scale this to provide an on-campus experience for as many students as we can safely accommodate.”
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,688 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single day increase in the month of September. The state also reported 27,501 more completed tests–more than double the previous day’s amount.
However, the percentage of positive tests has dipped below 5% once again, now sitting at 4.8% as of Tuesday. The key metric has been hovering between 4.5 and 5.5% for a week.
Currently, 902 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina with 97% of hospitals reporting. Statewide, 302 suspected COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in the past 24 hours.
THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES
Durham Public Schools are considering what’s next for their students as districts start to plan how to return to the classroom. They’ll discuss the results of a survey about remote learning experiences and how it’s going for families on Thursday. The survey could determine how soon in-person learning will return. In July, DPS unanimously passed the motion to move forward with remote learning for the first nine weeks of the school year.
State health leaders reported a slight decrease in new cases on Wednesday – 952. The number of positive tests was 5.3% in the latest report, which is consistent with recent figures.
Wake County Public School System K-5 students may return to in-person learning as soon as Oct. 26. The board is expected to vote on a proposal that could put kids back in the classroom. The board emphasized that safety measures would still be followed when students return to in-person instruction.
Durham’s Hillside High School is set to reopen today after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The school got a thorough cleaning after it closed on Tuesday.
Copyright © 2020 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.