DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Making sure families are comfortable sending their kids to the first day of school is the goal at Davidson County Schools.
This comes after last week’s decision to allow parents, staff and students to make their own decision on whether to mask up in the classroom.
But what are school officials doing to ensure the safety of your children?
“The biggest thing we are trying to do as a school is to accommodate and to make sure everybody is comfortable,” said Jason Lohr, principal at Ledford Middle School.
Getting back to educating kids in person is the biggest difference this school year.
“Mask or not masked. Vaccinated or unvaccinated. We cannot allow those conversations to infiltrate what we’re doing here, and that’s education first,” Lohr said.
But it comes with its challenges.
“There’s a lot of parents that are nervous for their children to come back. So we want to make sure that they’re comfortable with their students coming here,” Lohr said.
On Monday, the Davidson County School Board decided wearing masks will be optional.
“We are recommending that students and staff be masked as the CDC guidelines recommends,” explained Emily Lipe, Davidson County Schools Superintendent.”
However, masks are still required on school busses.
Over at Ledford Middle School, they have one-way walking signs, social distancing arrows and sanitation stations.
They’re staggering class change times to limit crowds in classrooms and the cafeterias.
“As far as our cafeteria, we’re alternating teachers, so the cafeteria doesn’t become overcrowded. We’ll have one classroom in at a time, so we continue that distancing,” Lohr said.
They’re even allowing teachers who want to eat outdoors with their class to do so. District leaders said it’s not a decision they made lightly, and many parents are on board.
“I think it should be every parent’s prerogative to decide what they want to do with their own child,” said Carolyn Jordan, a grandparent in Davidson County.
Because there’s been so much uncertainty surrounding how to safely go back to the classroom, Jordan’s kindergarten-aged grandson made the switch to private school.
“We just felt like private schools had the option of continuing if there is another shutdown,” Jordan said.
Once the virus is under control, she said he may return to public schools.
For Mark Batchek who has twin sophomore girls headed to Ledford High School, his daughters decided to get vaccinated to have an extra layer of protection.
“They’re going to go unmasked. I’m going to let them go unmasked,” Batchek said.
He says he understands the threat the delta variant poses even for vaccinated people but wants his girls to enjoy their first full year of in-person high school.
“We’re going to get to experience school as it should be,” he said.
Virtual academy is still an option, but places are filling up fast.
Lohr said they are willing to make accommodations for students who feel uncomfortable around unmasked students.
“If I have a student that is masked, who does not want to be around students that are unmasked, we’re going to provide that distancing for them,” he said.