A Letter from Chairman Armour

A Letter from Chairman Armour
Posted on 07/31/2020

Friday, July 31, 2020

I am writing as Chairman of the Burke County Schools to address the decision of the School Board on July 27, 2020 to begin the school year in Plan C or remote only until at least September 14, 2020. The decision was made during a public meeting following significant discussion and debate. The Burke County Schools, like all school boards in the United States, is faced with a decision that has serious consequences for our children and their parents. As we know, COVID-19 is transmitted through close contact and disease has proven fatal for more than 150,000 Americans. Thankfully children, as a group, seem less at risk; however, the education of children requires that adults work closely with students and each other throughout the school day. Equally as true, Americans and citizens of Burke County, including parents, have suffered significant economic harm and faced multiple social and health impacts from COVID-19 related closures of businesses and schools. There are no easy answers.

On Sunday evening, July 26, 2020, I communicated with our County Health Director to inquire into whether testing in our County was showing an increase or decrease in the cases of COVID-19. In an email, she provided with numbers and admitted that her numbers seemed off to some degree. However, she did state "[t]he data is here by day and yes over the last two weeks, our percent positive has been increasing." Based in part on what I clearly understood to be a trend in positive cases I called a meeting of the school board to consider Plan B versus Plan C to give parents and staff the maximum amount of time possible to plan for August.

During the meeting on July 27 I did share the information from the Health Director without knowing that the numbers did not support an overall increase in the number of positive tests. It is my understanding that the Health Director realized that fact yesterday. Therefore, I did not intentionally mislead anyone and the Health Director is graciously working to assist me in gathering correct information. All Board members have been made aware of the inaccurate information.

The majority decision of the Board on July 27 was to provide remote only instruction until at least September 14 and this decision will be reviewed at our Board meeting on August 10. Board members expressed their heartfelt feelings and concerns about COVID-19 and Plan B versus Plan C during the meeting and voted accordingly. Each board member is responsible for their vote and the reasons for it.

Like every School Board in our Nation, the Burke County Board of Education will continue to reassess the health, safety, emotional, economic and educational impact of COVID-19 and make the best decisions we can given the rapidly evolving nature of this disease. I encourage parents and community members to continue to provide the Board with input as we make these difficult decisions. Public comments can be sent to Mrs. Linda Huffman at lhuffman@burke.k12.nc.us and all comments will be forwarded to Board members.

Pursuant to the vote on July 27, 2020, the Burke County Schools will be on Plan C until at least September 14, 2020.

Sincerely,

Buddy Armour,
Chairman, Burke County Board of Education

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