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The Wilkes County Schools will start the 2020-21 school year with all students learning remotely (Plan C) rather than opening under Plan B (combination of learning remotely and in classrooms), announced Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd late Friday afternoon.

Byrd said a decision on the length of time with Plan C will be made next week, based on advice from Wilkes County Health Director Rachel Willard and after consulting with the Wilkes County Board of Education.

The following announcement from Byrd was posted on the Wilkes County Schools website about 5 p.m. Friday: “As you are aware, Wilkes County Schools has planned to open the 2020-2021 school year under Plan B, with schools offering in-person instruction with a reduced percentage of our students in attendance each day.

“However, based on advice we received today from our local health director (Willard) and after consulting with our Board of Education, this will now change and Wilkes County Schools will open under Plan C, with all students beginning the school year remotely. We hope this is temporary and a timeline for transitioning from Plan C to Plan B will be determined early next week. You will receive information concerning how Plan C will look for your child from their school next week.

“While we know this is a change and may present challenges, please understand that this decision was made in the best interest of the safety of both our students and our staff. We look forward to the day that all of our students can safely return to our classrooms.”

About 25 percent of the students in the Wilkes County Schools had already opted to learn remotely for the first nine weeks of school.

School board meets Monday

The Wilkes Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Stone Center in the Wilkes County Schools Administrative Offices Building on Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro. It will be the first school board meeting not held remotely in several months.

Byrd said attorney Fred Johnson of Mount Airy, who represents the Wilkes school board, advised him to seek Willard's input on holding the meeting in person with audience member also there in person. Byrd said Willard "thought we were fine as long as we socially distanced and ore masks." He said seats will be arranged so they are at least six feet apart, but seating will be limited.

He said people wishing to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting need to notify Carolyn Triplett, clerk to the school board, of their intentions at

Items on the agenda for the meeting include the Wilkes County Schools' remote instruction plan, Wilkes County Schools Reopening of Schools Plan, revision of certain board policies, swearing in of Joan Caudill, Hardin Kennedy and Kirk Walker as school board members and electing a chairman and vice chairman of the school board.

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