Since August 25, 14 school districts across North Carolina have reversed their mask policies to now require face covering for students and staff during the school day.
Based on the most recent information available for the state, 105 of the state’s 116 school districts currently require masks for students this Fall. After 14 school districts changed their policies to now require face coverings this week, there are 11 districts in the state that still have masks as optional for students. Although 105 of the state’s school districts currently require masks — 35 of those districts had originally planned to begin the school year with face coverings being optional, however either due to a spike in cases after school started, or a surge of positive in the community ahead of school beginning, local school leaders reversed earlier decisions, electing to require face coverings this school year.
In Macon County, Union Academy announced that due to staffing shortages associated with COVID19, the school would be transitioning to remote learning beginning today, September 1, and will remain virtual until September 13. Other districts in the state have had to take similar measures — such as Graham County Schools, which suspended athletics and in-person learning until September 13 due to COVID10 cases.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services made the decision late this summer to not mandate masks for schools across the state, however, they did strongly recommend that districts make the decision for their respective schools.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updates data regarding clusters and outbreaks across the state every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Last week, the NCDHSS reported 39 clusters in K-12 classrooms across 25 NC Counties. The schools reporting clusters reported 52 staff positive cases and 429 positive student cases. This week, NCDHHS is reporting 73 clusters across 35 counties. The schools reporting clusters report 96 school staff positives and 714 positive student cases.
The cluster designation means local health officials believe there is “plausible epidemiological linkage” between five or more cases connected to the school.
The largest reported clusters in the state are found in Union Academy Charter School which reports 13 staff positives and 94 student positives in Union County and Charter Day School in Brunswick County, which reports 6 staff positives and 81 student positives. Both Union Academy Charter School and Charter Day School in Brunswick began the school year with masks optional however, after a surge in cases, now require masks.