Mecklenburg County Manager to unilaterally reopen in-person Pre-K against wishes of majority of Pre-K teachers

Meck Pre-K will reopen its doors for in-person instruction beginning on September 1 despite community COVID infection rates that are keeping all K-12 Charlotte Mecklenburg schools closed for the foreseeable future.

In announcing the move, Meck Pre-K said the decision had been made “after extensive discussions with officials from Mecklenburg County, the NC Division of Public Health and the NCDHHS.”

It wasn’t made after discussions with Mecklenburg County Commissioners, though. Rather, this was a unilateral decision by County Manager Dena Diorio.

Diorio also moved unilaterally to drop the income cap which previously ensured the program would serve Mecklenburg County’s neediest children.

Meck Pre-K’s announcement says it “distributed surveys to families, teachers, and providers to gather feedback on the coming school year,” and that “across all groups, the majority of respondents expressed a desire for children to return to the classroom even in light of the ongoing public health situation.”

The announcement doesn’t mention the fact that only 11% of the teachers surveyed said they preferred to return to in-person instruction. 74% said remote would be a better option and 16% were neutral.

There is no question that virtual instruction pales in comparison to an in-person education, especially for our youngest students.

But whether or not it’s prudent to do that at a time when Mecklenburg County’s percent positive COVID test rate is hovering around 9% deserves transparent and robust discussion by our community and elected officials.

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