The Watauga Board of Education is considering an option to bring K-3 grade students back into schools for in-person learning starting October 5, with grades 4-12 returning to in-person learning beginning October 19.

The Watauga Democrat reports that during the September 14 meeting, Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott told board members he was very confident that students could safely return to school on October 19, and that students could be phased in gradually.

According to the report, three options were presented by Elliott. Option 1 was returning all students on October 19. Option 2 involved returning k-3 students October 5, grades 4 and 5 on October 12, and grades 6-12 on October 19. Option 3 was bringing k-3 students back October 5, and the rest on October 19. Option 3 was the option Elliott recommended to the board.

Elliott said bringing in the younger grades first would allow officials to continue screening procedures while beginning to acclimate students and employees into school, and assess protocols for cleaning and sanitizing.

Board member Jay Fenwick suggested voting on an option at a special called meeting Monday September 21 to allow for another week of COVID-19 metric observation, and also to allow board Chairman Ron Henries a chance to vote. Henries was absent at the meeting.