By Clint Parker
Buncombe County – Ahead of a vote on how to reopen schools, educators stood outside the Buncombe County School Central Office and held signs supporting remote learning to start the school year out. Nearly 50 educators, their spouses, and/or children hoped that board members, who had met in a specially called meeting Tuesday (July 28) would vote for remote learning.
Holding signs and wearing masks, the group stood quietly outside the school offices as the meeting went on inside.
“We just came out here to show support and, hopefully, see our board make a safe decision for our schools,” said Christy Cor, a teacher at Estes Elementary. Asked what she considered to be a safe decision, Cor said, “Currently, as our numbers rise, we can only consider a safe decision to be remote learning for a short time.”
Cor said those turning out to this rally were a good representation of people from elementary, middle and high schools. “We’re here and we want to teach our children, but we want to do it the safest way possible.”
Amy Lunsford, the librarian at Woodfin Elementary, was also at the event with her husband, Elliot, a high school math teacher at Owen, at and her two children, who are Buncombe County students, one of whom is a cancer survivor. “They’re talking about meeting in person right now and that’s greatly concerning to us,” said Lunsford.
Lunsford explained that her family lives in one school district while she and her husband teach in two separate districts. “Half of the school district in Buncombe County, we could effect [if they were to get the virus].”
Jacelyn Cagle, a third-grade teacher at Estes, who was there with her husband, an Asheville City School science teacher, and their child, told the Tribune, “Our son has an immuno-compromised system and he also has asthma. It’s important for us to stay safe. We know that we love our students. We’ve been teaching for a long time, and we want to get in the classroom as much as everybody else does, but we also know that with the COVID numbers rising that it’s just not a safe time to go back in the building.”
Cagle admits that last year education suffered from having to teach virtually. However, since then, Cagle and her fellow teachers have been learning how to teach from afar through online classes. She and her husband took advantage of on-line courses from NC State. “We know we’ve been preparing over the summer to teach virtually, and we can do it. We’re excited to have this new opportunity…We just want another chance to do it the right way.”
School board members eventually voted for a plan “B- Beyond” option with a mixture of in-person and remote learning (read that story here).