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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — After voting to approve Gov. Roy Cooper’s Plan A for elementary school students, school board members and staff in Randolph County are preparing for more children in school buildings.

K-fifth grade students will start returning to classrooms full time on Oct. 19, according to Randolph County School System Superintendent Dr. Stephen Gainey.

“Obviously when you bring more students back the possibility for more cases does increase, but we’re going to keep running the same processes,” he said.

He explained that timeline will help school leaders address challenges surrounding schedules, bus routes and school nutrition.

“Two things that will be a little bit different is in the classroom, the social distancing in the classrooms may be a little different, may be more difficult to enforce. Same thing on the busses, but we have the drivers that are going to take care of our children,” Gainey said.

Parents will have until Friday to decide if they prefer to send their children back under Plan A, or if they’d prefer continuing with a fully online program.

Gainey said he’s been touring schools, and based on what he has seen inside, he feels ready to let more students back.

“We’re going to monitor who wants transportation and develop our bus routes accordingly, but we’re going to do whatever it takes to get our children back,” he said.

Parents like Renee Reed are grateful for the chance to go back to a normal schedule. Reed has a second grader at Franklinville Elementary School and said remote learning has not been easy.

“I’m a big advocate for our children getting back into school, for my child personally I think she’s suffering, I think she’s digressing some,” she said. “We know COVID is real, we don’t want it in our home however we want to get back in schools and we don’t want to live in fear.”