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NC DHHS: preschool students should receive “fully in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible”

Yesterday, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a guidance document for NC Pre-K, our state-funded preschool program.

The guidance for NC Pre-K classrooms is much different than that provided for K-12 public schools.  In fact, preschool classrooms “operating in public schools are not expected to follow all requirements outlined in the K-12 public health guidance.”  According to DHHS, here are the goals for the 2020-21 program year:

We know that our children learn best when they have the opportunity to be together with their classmates and teachers. COVID-19 has presented many challenges to the way we work, live, learn and socialize with each other. Our goals seek to provide as much stability and proven in-person instruction as possible as we navigate through the pandemic.

  • All NC Pre-K students receive the benefit of fully in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible.
  • All parents/guardians are offered the option of in-person instruction for the full program year.
  • Recognizing the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning will be available for all NC Pre-K students as an option of last resort and used as sparingly as possible (such as during time-limited school entry periods where schools are in remote learning only, during necessary quarantine periods.)
  • All remote learning offered will meet standard quality measures that support children’s healthy development and engage families in their children’s learning.

According to DHHS, the program year “will operate for a full 36 weeks as usual, 6.5 hours per day, five days per week, beginning no later than September 8th.”

How do DHHS officials and Gov. Cooper square the NC Pre-K guidelines with the more restrictive guidance for K-12 public schools? Moreover, the “benefit of fully in-person instruction” is a laudable goal for a 4-year-old but not a 5-year-old?

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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