CCCA facing new challenges in addition to COVID-19

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Columbus Career and College Academy is facing a few more challenges than other public schools for its opening day of Aug. 6. 

CCCA is not only dealing with the effects of the pandemic, but this is the first year of all activities taking place on the Southeastern Community College Campus. The county schools closed the CCCA site in Fair Bluff and several other schools earlier this year as a cost-saving measure. 

“We’re working hard getting the teachers in place and getting ready for next week,” said Crystal Matthis of CCCA.

CCCA will be opening a little different than other public schools, Principal Jeremiah Johnson said in an email to parents Tuesday. While the county schools in general will be following the state-recommended “Plan B,” a mixture of in-person and online instruction, CCCA will have a different schedule.

The first day of school, only CCCA freshman will attend classes in person, Johnson said. On days two through seven, students who did not select 100 percent online learning will come to school on alternating days, based on alphabetical order of the last name. Student schedules for those attending in-person classes will be announced later this week.

“What we do ask is that even if you signed up for 100 percent online, you come to school at least one day to meet your teachers, learn about the upcoming semester, and other important information,” Johnson said in the email. 

CCCA will follow health guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease control and N.C. Health and Human Services. Masks will be required at all times, along with social distancing. Multiple handwashing stations will be in place, and limited shifts between classes will be on the schedule.

Starting Aug. 17, all students will learn remotely for four weeks, Johnson said.  Students will then return to school on an alternating schedule beginning Sept. 14. 

“We are developing plans to ensure that all students get the information and technology answers that they need,” he said.

College courses, on the other hand, will present a different series of adjustments, Johnson said.

Since transportation services will not be offered by CCCA in the immediate future, “who do not drive to campus or have a ride there will have limited options when it comes to taking college classes,” Johnson wrote. School staff are currently working on a schedule that takes into account which students have transportation and which do not.

“By the time school begins, student schedules should be accurate, but until then they will be changing.  This a very fluid process and a student could experience several changes in one day, but again our goal is to have accurate schedules in place on the first day,” Johnson wrote.

The transportation department is currently developing routes for the first seven days of school, and those routes should be finalized soon, Johnson wrote. 

“Once finalized we will get the information out to students about pick up times.  For the first seven days of school, students will be picked up and taken to the SCC campus.”

Beginning Sept. 14, students will ride the bus to the high school for their attendance zone and then ride a shuttle bus to the SCC campus.  This is the same process that was used in years past, Johnson said.

The system will also be tighter on academic work than has been the case during the spring semester, when officials were forced to create an online instruction program from scratch.  CCCA uses the Schoology program, and accounts will be set up for all students and parents by opening bell Aug. 6.

“It is imperative that with online instruction, you keep up to date with assignments and class requirements,” Johnson said. “There will be a lot more accountability for all stakeholders (students, parents, teachers) this semester and it will not be like last semester.  In the end, students will be assigned a grade based on their performance in their class.”

Johnson said the school staff as well as college personnel are standing by ready to help.
“…the 2020-2021 school year will be like no other,” he wrote. “No one in our lifetime has experienced learning and teaching like this.  There are more unknowns than what is known.  Some students may never step foot on campus, while others will want to be here every day.  SCC has their calendar and types of learning, while we have ours.  That being said, we are the CCCA Pride and we will adapt, teach and learn.”

For the entire text of Johnson’s message, go to

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and the News Director for WTXY AM1540 & Kool 103.9FM Radio. He can be reached at (910) 632-4965, or by email at