Students across North Carolina head back to school Monday in the state’s 115 public school districts. The coronavirus shuttered schools in the spring, and many districts are reopening for online instruction at least for the first weeks of the school year.

State education officials gave school districts options on how to reopen based on local coronavirus conditions. No schools in North Carolina are able to reopen completely, called “Plan A” by state education officials, because the virus continues to spread in the state.

Instead, school districts are working on hybrid models with a combination of in-person and virtual learning, called “Plan B” by the Department of Public Instruction. Many school districts are going with “Plan C” for at least the first six to nine weeks of the school year with classes all online.

District-by-district data compiled by the North Carolina School Boards Association shows most counties will start with Plan C to start school this year.

“The majority of students will start out in Plan C,” said Leanne Winner, director of government relations for the association.


For North Carolina’s school boards, Winner said, “Both student safety and staff staff safety are of utmost concern.”

Hybrid models under Plan B vary with some districts giving students in-person instruction on rotating days or four days a week, using Wednesdays as a remote-learning day so the school can be cleaned.

Larger, more urban counties, including Wake, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, Guilford and New Hanover, are all starting the year with remote learning.

For districts using Plan C, most are planning for virtual instruction for up to nine weeks. One outlier is the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District, which plans to stay online-only until at least Jan. 15.

FFor more details on district plans and the most up-to-date data, see the NC School Boards Association spreadsheet on school reopening plans.