© 2023 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Plan A: Here’s How School Systems In WNC Are Reopening

Students across Western North Carolina have the option for virtual school and varying levels of in-person instruction.

Governor Cooper announced September 17 that children in kindergarten through 5th grade can attend in-person classes starting October 5.  However, learning still looks different for every county and school district in Blue Ridge Public Radio’s listening area. Here is the breakdown of all 15 school districts:


Asheville City Schools will continue to access remote instruction for all students in K-12th grade through October 16. A final decision about the second nine weeks of school has not been made. The Asheville City Board of Education will make this decision at their October 5th meeting.  


On October 1, the board voted on a motion to revise the Return to Learn plan. High school students who have chosen Plan B will return to in-person learning two days per week beginning October 19. Students will attend in-person on the same A/B schedule as K-eighth grade students, who will remain on the current A/B in-person rotation. Wednesdays will remain a remote-only learning day for ALL students. 


Cherokee County Schools are moving toward in person instruction and are currently on an A/B schedule for in-person instruction. The Cherokee County Board of Education’s next meeting is October 8 and will discuss a move to Plan A.


Cherokee Central Schools have been operating fully virtual. The schools will transition to Plan B/ Hybrid option on October 19. This means that students can choose to return on an A/B schedule with face-to-face learning two days per week and virtual classes two days per week. Fully virtual learning will still be an option.


Clay County Schools students in K-fifth grade will be returning to plan A on October 5. These students will be able to attend school four days per week. Wednesdays will remain virtual for all CCS students. Clay County Schools are currently hiring substitute teachers.


Graham County Elementary Schools will operate under Plan A starting on October 13, which means students can attend school in-person four days per week. Graham County Board of Education unanimously approved the plan on September 23. All children ages 1 – 18 can receive free meals at the elementary school cafeteria.


Haywood County Elementary students will be back in school for Plan A on October 5. The Haywood County Board of Education approved middle schools and high schools to start with Plan B, weekly rotation, beginning on September 28.


Henderson County Public Schools students in first to fifth grades went back to Plan B the week of September 24. Middle and high school students returned to Plan B the week of September 28. The next regular Henderson County Board of Education meeting is on October 12.


The Jackson County Board of Education approved a plan at its regular business meeting on September 22 that allows Pre-K through fifth grade students to attend school in-person four days per week beginning October 5. Middle and high school grades will continue following the AA/BB plan where students attend in-person two days per week on a staggered schedule.  Remote-only instruction is optional for all families.


The Macon County Board of Education will send elementary school students back to Plan A school on October 5. The other schools will continue current hybrid plans including Highlands and Nantahala Schools. Virtual learning will still be an option. The next Macon County Board of Education meeting is October 19.


Madison County Board of Education voted unanimously to allow K-fifth grade students to return to school for face to face instruction starting October 5. Madison Middle School, Madison High School, and Madison Early College High School will continue under Plan B with no schedule changes occurring at this time.


In July, Polk County Board of Education voted to start the school year in August 24 under Plan B. On September 28, the board called a special meeting to discuss the modifying the existing schedule. Polk County Middle School in-person learners will begin attending school four days per week instead of the current two starting October 6. All local elementary schools can fully move to Plan A. Elementary schools will be allowed to begin using playground structures and settings during recess. Middle school and high school physical education students will also be allowed to begin using weight rooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. 


Swain County Schools will move elementary students to a modified plan A on October 19. This means that students who have already been in the building will be given the opportunity to be in the building for 4 days per week. This will not be an option for students that are currently virtual. Pre-K students have already been coming to school in-person 5 days per week. Middle and High School students  


The Transylvania County Board of Education will meet on October 5 to discuss data and trends from Transylvania Public Health, as well as feedback from staff and families, to determine the next phase of reopening our schools safely. A public survey was distributed to parents to share their opinions. Transylvania County Schools started to operate under Plan B on August 17.


Yancey County elementary school students will return to school on Plan A for seated instruction 5 days a week starting October 5. Students will have academic instruction with their teacher from each morning with small group academic support or tutoring after lunch until 2:45 p.m. each day. Middle and high school students will return on Plan B with instruction two days per week.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.