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Following cluster, school system's COVID totals increase again
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Burke County Public Schools

Following cluster, school system's COVID totals increase again

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Once again, the number of quarantined/isolated staff members and students in the local school system is on the rise.

According to Cheryl Shuffler, Burke County Public Schools public relations officer, a total of 324 students and staff members were quarantined or isolated throughout the school system last week.

On Oct. 20, The News Herald reported Icard Elementary would transition to remote learning through Nov. 5 following a cluster being identified at the school.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services defines a cluster as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or first positive results within a 14-day period and a plausible link between cases.

Per general statutes, child care centers and schools are required to report suspected cases of reportable communicable diseases, including COVID-19, to the local health director of the county or district in which the school or facility is located.

According to NCDHHS, public reporting of clusters in child care and school settings is necessary to protect public health and implement appropriate control measures.

Shuffler said the school system’s report identified nine people – six staff members and three students – at Icard Elementary who tested positive last week. The state’s reporting typically lags behind schools and counties’ reporting as it is only updated at 4 p.m. on Tuesday

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Weekly Totals – Oct. 19-25

In all, Shuffler said 22 students and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Once again, elementary schools saw the most cases as 13 of the 22 total cases were in K-5 schools.

Middle schools saw four cases while high schools saw five cases last week.

Day care centers consolidating

The school system announced that beginning Monday, day care centers would be consolidating. Burke County Public Schools will now operate five full-time sites from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

The sites are:

  • Ray Childers Elementary,
  • Mountain View Elementary,
  • Salem Elementary,
  • W.A. Young Elementary and
  • Drexel Elementary.

The Burke County Board of Education will meet for a work session meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. at Olive Hill Resource Center. 

Johnny Casey is a staff writer and can be reached at 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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