Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2021

SALISBURY — After a streak of climbing student infections and quarantines in Rowan-Salisbury Schools students, the numbers have dipped slightly.

The district reported 725 students in quarantine and 39 positive cases as of Friday. This is a decrease from 962 quarantines and 42 positives the previous week.

The district sent middle and high school students back to school four days per week full time on April 12. The regular COVID-19 numbers update on April 16 showed significant increases. The number of quarantines went from 195 to 302, and the infections jumped from two t0 10. Quarantines jumped to 589 and the number of infections doubled the following week.

Quarantine and infection numbers this week are still well above the previous student high in December, with 621 quarantines and 20 infections. Last week, state health officials reported a cluster of six student infections at Granite Quarry Elementary School.

District administration says it expected the numbers to go up because there are more students in buildings and closer together. That’s resulted in more quarantines because more students meet the criteria to be sent home.

Staff infections and quarantines have remained low this semester. Only five staff were positive for COVID-19 Friday. There were 13 quarantines. The number of staff infected has not risen above .4% since the move to plan A and quarantines have not broken 1%.

Associate Superintendent Kelly Withers gave the RSS Board of Education its regular update on the figures during its Monday meeting.

In other news from the meeting:

• District Chief Technology Officer David Blattner spoke about renewing a contract with electronic monitoring provider Gaggle.

The company monitors student email and Google services on district devices for “threats, incidents of self harm, bullying and other inappropriate or concerning behavior,” according to a memo to the board.

Blattner told the board the district only monitored email accounts in the past, but the state paid for schools to add the monitoring of Google Drive and Hangouts last year. Blattner said he believes there will be funding available for the additional services this year as well. If the funding does not come through, the district will be able to contract for only email monitoring.

The contract is for a total of about $340,00 over three years and will be placed on the consent agenda for the next board meeting.

• The board reviewed a recommendation to approve the alternative schools progress model for use at Henderson Independent School. The board has to approve an accountability model for the school every year, and this is the plan the school has used historically.

The option takes student persistence, achievement and growth into account. Other options for independent schools include a regular school accountability model or proposing its own model. Approval of the model was also placed on the consent agenda for the next meeting.

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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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