From remote learning to shifting in-person and from cohort schedules to updated timelines, Council for Children’s Rights has created one place for information about school reopening and options for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ families.


Note: The information contained in this blog was accurate at time of publication. We’ll continue to track trends related to shifts in timelines or instruction modality (i.e., remote, hybrid, in-person) and will update this blog as needed.

State Context

In July Governor Cooper gave school districts in North Carolina the option to begin the year implementing Plan B (in-person instruction with moderate social distancing) or Plan C (fully remote learning environment) as the method of instruction. Governor Cooper modified the previous options permissible and issued an order on September 17 allowing districts to implement Plan A (minimal social distancing) in grades K-5 beginning in early October.

Local Context for CMS

Because Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is a large, urban district, district leadership began the academic year on August 17, 2020 under Plan C. District leaders are now moving CMS into Plan B, with the plan for our youngest students to return in mid-October and high school students to return at the beginning of 2021.

CMS Remote Learning Academy

Before the beginning of the school year, approximately 1/3 of CMS students enrolled in the fully virtual Remote Learning Academy. Families who signed up for this method of instruction continue to have the option to remain remote while other CMS students are phased from fully remote learning (Plan C) to in-person instruction with moderate social distancing (Plan B).

What if Families Want to Opt In or Out of Remote Learning?

To Opt In At Any Time:
Families who did not register for the Remote Learning Academy prior to the beginning of the school year may opt in if a student or someone in their household receives a health diagnosis which places them in the high-risk category. Contact your child’s school for more information.

To Opt In or Out At Any Time:
Families may choose to register their children for the Remote Learning Academy or choose in-person instruction after the beginning of the school year if there is a change in childcare, finances, employment, or residence. Contact your child’s school for more information.

To Opt In for the Second Semester:
Submit a written request to your child’s school registrar before December 4.


CMS to Begin Shift to In-Person Learning

Bright Beginnings and NC Pre-K teachers across CMS will begin preparing for their students to return in-person to their classrooms on September 29, 2020. This decision to shift to Plan B under CMS’ Plan for a Phased Return to In-Person Instruction was made by the CMS Board of Education on September 16. This plan includes multiple timelines for a student’s physical return to school depending on grade, assigned cohort, and local COVID-trends.

We’re here to break it down for you to make sure you have the information to make safe and appropriate decisions for your family.

  • Bright Beginnings and NC Pre-K teachers return today. Their pre-k students will return October 12 and are the ONLY students in the district under the current plan who will attend school daily.
  • Teachers for grades K-5 and Montessori Pre-K will return October 19. Their students will return in staggered cohorts (A, B, C) beginning November 2.
  • Teachers for grades 6-8 will return November 9. Their students will return in staggered cohorts (A, B, C) beginning November 23.
  • Teachers for grades 9-12 will return November 30. Their students will return in staggered cohorts (A, B, C) beginning January 5, 2021.


Students in K-12 and Montessori Pre-K will attend school with a cohort group (A, B, C) that was assigned to each student at the beginning of the year. Students in each cohort will receive hybrid instruction, meaning students will receive instruction in-person as well as remotely. Students will receive in-person instruction for one week with their cohort and the next two weeks will be spent engaging in remote learning.

Health and Safety

CMS has invested more than $3.7 million on health and safety equipment (e.g., face coverings, hand sanitizer, hand soap, gloves, alcohol wipes and disinfectant spray). These costs will continue to rise as they restock to ensure health and safety equipment are available at all times. When possible, the district has used funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. However, CMS has had to use their own funding as well. For example, the district can purchase hand dryers with federal funds but cannot pay for their installation. The rising costs CMS will incur as the COVID-19 crisis continues sheds a light on the need for additional federal assistance.

Along with CMS, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, State Board of Education, and Department of Public Instruction will continue to monitor trends related to COVID-19 at the school- and county-level. This year, the district could phase into Plan A, which requires minimal social distancing, or back to Plan C with fully remote learning.



Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. (2020). CMS Back to School Plans A B C. Retrieved from HERE

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. (2020). Plan B Readiness Dashboard. Retrieved from HERE

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education. (2020). September 16 Meeting. Retrieved from HERE

NC Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Strong Schools NC: Public Health Toolkit (K-12). Retrieved from HERE


Jaimelee Behrendt-Mihalski, MA
Policy Advocate

Jaimelee Behrendt-Mihalski is the Policy Advocate at Council for Children’s Rights. A graduate of DePaul University with a B.A. in community psychology, she moved to Charlotte in 2013 where she completed a M.A. in community psychology and certificate in nonprofit management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is expected to complete her Ph.D. in health psychology/community psychology in December 2020.

She is drawn to this work because she sees herself and her childhood friends represented in the children served by the Council. A child of an incarcerated parent who attended an underfunded public school, she grew up alongside children who were in foster care, needed special education and mental health services, caught in the middle of custody battles, or were in youth detention facilities. Because of her background and because she was “fortunate enough to have supports and — as a white woman — a lot of unseen privilege” she feels it is her imperative to use her talents and knowledge to shine a light on injustice in systems that impact children.

Jaimelee lives in Charlotte with husband Alex and their dog Behr. 

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