LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) — The Public Schools of Robeson County opened for in-person learning today after nearly a year of virtual instruction.
The district’s board voted about three weeks ago to resume in-person learning. Administrators at Long Branch Elementary School say they had been planning for a long time for this day.
Many teachers were excited to open their classrooms to students once again.
“It’s still exciting seeing them on the screen but nothing beats when they take that first step off the bus,” exceptional children department chair at Long Branch Elementary Julia Lashley said. “It’s like this rush, you’re going to get that flutter in your heart.”
The school board voted in favor of students returning under Plan B, which uses a hybrid-style schedule. The schedule differs between Pre-K through 8th grade and high school. The hybrid model limits the number of students in the building.
“It was overwhelming,” preschool teacher and Pre-K chair at Long Branch Elementary Lachardon Moore said of Monday. “I wanted to cry. I was so proud. I wanted to give each one of them a hug but I couldn’t, I had to do virtual hugs.”
Students still have the option of remaining virtual. According to a survey by the district of over 16,000, nearly 49% said their student planned to remain virtual.
“We feel that a lot of them have fell behind being at home virtually,” Long Branch Elementary principal Amanda Tyner said. “That bond between a teacher and a student can move mountains and make a child academically soar if they believe that a teacher believes in them.”
Tyner said the school has many safety protocols in place to help keep COVID out. Some of the protocols include social distancing, masks, sanitizing, divided hallways and temperature checks.
“Our big focus right now is to get that growth in these students,” Tyner said.
Scotland County Schools began offering in-person learning for Pre-K through Fifth Grade Monday. It will offer in-person learning for middle and high school students beginning March 8. Remote learning is still an option in this district as well.
Some Robeson County parents were happy that classrooms are finally reopening.
“My children need to be in school,” Candi Oxendine said. “They love the interaction. And for my daughter’s sake, her grades actually dropped being at home because she had too many distractions. And so she needed that face-to-face.”
Governor Roy Cooper has pushed districts in recent weeks to offer in-person learning safely. Educators in North Carolina began getting vaccinated last week.