CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston opens 2020-21 school year

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The yearly tradition remains strong on WBT's Morning News. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston joined Bo Thompson to mark the start of the 2020-21 school year. In the unusual times with the Covid-19 pandemic, CMS schools will look different on day one. An all-remote education model known as "Plan C" was officially rolled out welcoming students back to class today. 

"It is certainly not our ideal circumstances." Winston said about the opening. "We would love to have our kids back in-person, but our staff is here. We're ready to support our kids in anyway possible." 

With Coronavirus still a major concern in North Carolina and the U.S., Winston knows the importance of helping to stop the spread. It's the same factor keeping CMS from entertaining the possibility of welcoming back students to campus.

The positive case rate of Covid-19 in Mecklenburg county dropped from 7.5 percent last week to the current value of 6.7 percent. A recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says a positive rate should be below 5 percent to consider in-person learning by institutions. 

Winston and his staff have brought in experts to combat the current crisis.

"What I can tell you is that we've convened a medical advisory team that includes experts from our local public health department, as well as our private healthcare providers. In addition, we have a CMS teacher, principal and other central office staff on that team. And that team is charged with developing a set of meterics they can then recommend to us that wen can use to make a decision to transition to in-person learning." 

He gave a projected timetable of three weeks for the group to return their findings. The school board is expected to use the team's report to make a decision going forward. Winston also said, "Staff has began to plan for phased-in reopening of schools."

As for the impact of NCHSAA's cancelation on CMS, Winston said plans are being put together to resume "athletic conditioning" at facilities and will have guidelines soon. Another step toward having students back on CMS campuses in the near future.