One week in, limited COVID-19 positives in public schools, colleges

Published 9:50 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — As schools are getting back to in-person instruction, there have been relatively few COVID-19 cases reported.

Since classes began on last week, Rowan-Salisbury Schools has reported just four positive cases of COVID-19 and additional six cases identified in staff members before students returned to campus

The district sent letters to families at five schools on Tuesday notifying them of one district staff member who serves at multiple schools that tested positive. Letters went out to East Rowan High School, North Rowan High School, Overton Elementary School, Landis Elementary School and Granite Quarry Elementary School.

East Rowan and Carson High School each had a student test positive for the illness. There has been one staff member test positive at Shive Elementary School. Carson and Shive families were notified via letter on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

There were some staff infections identified before students returned to campus, including three at Hanford-Dole Elementary School, one at North Rowan Middle School, one at Knox Middle School and one at Granite Quarry Elementary School.

Staff who tested positive before students began quarantined beforehand. And the 10 positive cases have occurred in a district with roughly 18,000 students and a few thousand staff members. A little more than a week in, there are no clusters in the district, which are defined by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as at least five active cases which have tested positive in connection to one another.

Catawba College has recorded two confirmed positives so far. The college began classes on Aug. 18, and has recorded two confirmed cases in students who live off campus. The college created an online COVID-19 dashboard where it will publish its campus statistics for the public to see.

Dean of Students Jared Tice said the dashboard updates on Tuesday, but the college will update it more frequently if there are spikes in cases.

Students will not return to classes at Catawba after Thanksgiving in anticipation of a possible spike in cases.

Livingstone College delayed the beginning of classes until Sept. 8 in response to the pandemic. The college plans to test everyone who works for and attends the college as they return. The tests Livingstone is administering will have results in about 48 hours. Because of its aggressive testing plan, the college could identify more positives than educational institutions where mass testing is not happening.

Livingstone will be returning with a blend of in-person, online, hybrid and live-streamed classes.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is offering 88% of its curriculum online this semester, and started the fall semester on Aug. 17. Only 1,100 students are attending in-person classes. The college told the Post there are no recorded active cases in students, though one student has tested positive since the pandemic reached Rowan County in March.

Both Rowan-Salisbury Schools and local colleges require masks, social distancing and have taken on enhanced sanitation protocols.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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