Local schools, colleges keep COVID-19 cases low

Published 7:48 pm Thursday, November 5, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — No clusters of COVID-19 infections have surfaced in local public schools per state data released on Tuesday.

Both Rowan-Salisbury Schools and Kannapolis City Schools have maintained low numbers while some nearby counties have experienced clusters, which include five or more cases that can be connected to one another. Forsyth and Iredell public schools have both seen small clusters appear.

RSS had eight active cases on Thursday, including five staff and three students. Over the previous two weeks, cases include two students who tested positive at West Rowan Middle, one staff member and one student at West Rowan High, a staff member at South Rowan High, two students at Salisbury High, a staff member at Rockwell Elementary, a staff member at Koontz Elementary, a student at Knox Middle, a staff member at East Rowan High, a student at Corriher-Lipe Middle and one district staff member in the Carter building.

Kannapolis City Schools releases weekly updates on its COVID-19 status via its website each Monday. This week, it recorded one new case and had no other people in precautionary quarantine as a result.

KCS Superintendent Chip Buckwell said the district has been able to trace all its positive cases to infection sources outside of school like family gatherings.

Private institutions have not been immune to clusters, however. The state reported Rockwell Christian school had 20 cases last Friday. Early in the school year and before classes began, North Hills Christian School reported a cluster as well. In the case of North Hills, the cluster was identified in staff who were quarantined before they came in contact with students. The week before it recorded five new cases and had three in precautionary quarantine.

Catawba College has had a slow climb of active cases since the beginning of the year. The college has recorded 26 cases since it began classes in August. It currently has one student in on-campus isolation, 11 in on-campus quarantine and five employees in isolation or quarantine.

The college is following state protocols for mask wearing, enhanced cleaning, social distancing and sanitization. Students were encouraged to take into account their actions on and off campus in October.

The college will not bring students back to campus for the rest of the semester after Thanksgiving break, citing concerns over a second wave of COVID-19. Cases have increased in Rowan County and across the state for the past few weeks.

Livingstone College has seen eight people test positive since it brought students back in September and has four active cases.

In early October, it only reported two positives. Livingstone also tested everyone on campus for the viral infection and tested everyone on campus when they returned.

Chief Operating Officer Anthony Davis noted three of the recorded cases were asymptomatic and identified when the college tested everyone a second time in October.

Livingstone has gone beyond state requirements, contracting to have the campus decontaminated with electrostatic sprayers before classes began and applying an antimicrobial layer to surfaces.

Davis said he feels good only having eight cases and the college will continue to execute its protocols according to its plan.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College reported no active cases in students or staff on campus, though RCCC Chief Officer of Governance, Advancement and Community Relations Sarah Walker noted 93% of courses are offered online this semester.

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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