New Dimensions School, one of two local schools opting to conduct full-time, in-person instruction, went more than a month without a confirmed case of COVID-19 among students or staffers.
That changed Thursday though, as the school's director, David Burleson, confirmed on Facebook that a staff member received positive test results that morning.
Burleson told The News Herald the staff member is a teacher in an upper elementary grade. Based on the Burke County Health Department standards, the school also has one staff member and two students quarantined. They were to be tested this weekend, per the Health Department's recommendation.
He said he was in touch with the teacher Thursday and that she is experiencing mild symptoms. She will be quarantined for 14 days and will have to receive a negative test to return to work.
The public charter school implemented a host of measures to ensure the safety of students and staffers, including the construction of three fourth-grade classrooms. The school also installed Plexiglas sneeze guards at students’ desks and teamed with Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge to provide an onsite nurse in the mornings.
During an informational Zoom meeting in late August, Burleson said that roughly 70 students and their parents had elected to start the school year remotely. The school is offering the remote option to students and parents, with teachers live-streaming their instruction to the remote students during in-person classes.
According to Burleson, 332 students are attending in person, compared to 53 remotely.
“We have worked closely with the Burke County Health Department on contact tracing,” Burleson said. “Everyone who has had close contact based on the Health Department standards have been contacted and if needed, have been quarantined.”
Burleson said New Dimensions' policy is to send all parents an email and text, and to post to the school's website and Facebook page about the confirmed case.
"We want to be completely transparent and honest," Burleson said. "I have been very proud of our staff and students."
New Dimensions, which was established in 2001, is a kindergarten through eighth-grade school with about 310 students. On its website, parents and students were asked to fill out a form to select whether they prefer their children to be taught in person or remotely.
Johnny Casey is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-432-8907.
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