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8 more COVID cases identified in schools
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Burke County Public Schools

8 more COVID cases identified in schools

System instructed not to release schools with cases

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Earlier this week, The News Herald reported on some parents’ concerns for the health and safety of Burke County Public Schools teachers and students as they returned this week for part-time in-person instruction.

The threat of students and staff members contracting COVID-19 becomes just another factor that overburdened parents/guardians and teachers have to worry about.

These fears were validated this week when the school system confirmed that since Sept. 5, eight additional students and school staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Cheryl Shuffler, Burke County Public Schools public relations officer, the eight cases occurred at multiple schools throughout the district.

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She said the school system works with the local and state health departments, which advised the school system to not identify the schools that have individual cases, per North Carolina General Statute 130A-143, which protects all information and records that identify a person who has a reportable communicable disease.

If a particular school experiences a cluster, which the state health department classifies as five or more cases, that information is released by the state and local health departments.

As of Wednesday, the school system has had a total of 19 staff and 14 students test positive for COVID-19 since March, as well as 382 people – 95 staff and 287 students – quarantined or isolated, Shuffler said.

As of Sept. 5, 25 students and staff had tested positive for the virus, while 298 students and staff had quarantined or isolated, according to information Shuffler emailed to The News Herald.

“We continue to work with the Burke county Health Department and have procedures in place to ensure those directly exposed to an individual who has tested positive are contacted by health department officials,” Shuffler said Wednesday. “We know we, like schools across the world, may experience positive cases of COVID-19 connected with our communities.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to minimize any potential exposure to COVID-19, including an aggressive screening protocol for anyone who enters our buildings, taking thorough cleaning and disinfecting measures, and practicing “the three Ws”: requiring staff and students to wear masks, waiting six feet as we social distance, and providing for regular hand washing and sanitizing.”

Johnny Casey is a staff writer and can be reached at jcasey@morganton.com or 828-432-8907. 

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Johnny Casey has been covering education and writing feature stories for The News Herald since Aug. 2019

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