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Gov. Cooper to Announce Plans for Phase 3 and Reopening Schools in the Fall

By Nathan Ham

Next week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper will make the much-anticipated announcement on how public K-12 schools in the state will operate once the 2020-21 school year begins.

Gov. Cooper postponed a previous announcement to give the state’s coronavirus task force more time to study data and see if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was going to issue any further guidelines for reopening schools.

“We want our children back in school safely and we’ll have an official announcement next week,” Cooper said during a briefing on Thursday. “This is a tough call. How to open up schools is something that every single state, every single governor, is struggling with.”

Schools were asked to come up with three different plans in preparation for the upcoming school year. The first plan would be close to a normal school day with limited social distancing and students going to class during normal school hours. The second plan would require more moderate social distancing with only 50 percent capacity allowed in school buildings. The third plan would be to continue online learning and keep school buildings closed.

No date was given for when this announcement would be made.

An update on a potential move to Phase 3, which seems highly unlikely at this point, will also be included in next week’s announcement. 

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in North Carolina and nearly 40 other states across the country. The state has reported 1,982 positive tests so far today and hospitalizations have set a new record for the state with 1,046 battling the virus inside a hospital. Watauga County is up to 116 cases, Ashe County is up to 63 cases and Avery County is up to 23 cases.