If you bring kids back to schools, there is a very high likelihood there will be COVID-19 activity, much like there is spread of the flu, which spreads through schools “like wildfire,” said Dr. Scott Harrelson, director of the Craven County Health Department.

But you wouldn’t want to shut a whole school down, he said.

Harrelson was speaking to the Craven County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Monday.

County commissioners say they are getting inundated by people telling them they disagree with nine-week delay.

Craven County Board of Commissioners Chairman Thomas Mark said constituents are expressing the importance of children being in school.

He emphasized the importance of daily teaching in schools, especially K-3, children at risk, special needs kids, and those without internet service.

Craven County has over 500 employees who are all working, which he called outrageous on their part.

Meanwhile, teachers are reluctant to be in a classroom, he said.

What he failed to make note of is the difference between a few adults in an office or a warehouse, and a classroom filled with restless children who may not be diligent in avoiding contagion.

Nevertheless, Mark wants the school district to reconsider daily instruction for the groups he suggested.

More about that discussion here.

UNC-Chapel Hill goes online-only when a spike in COVID-19 cases emerges among students after one week of in-class instruction.

It is difficult to say where the county will be in nine weeks, when Craven County Schools are scheduled to resume in-person classes, Harrelson said.

Harrelson advised that Craven County Schools should handle the virus the same way some businesses have handled it.

Rather than shutting down the business, they isolate the patient and those who came in contact, scrub down the facility, and get back to work.

Some other businesses have taken a different tack, shutting down assembly lines and whole facilities for short periods.

Harrelson advised that Craven County Schools should handle the COVID-19 situation case by case.

For example, a high-risk grandmother with custody of grandchildren, may want kids to take their classes online, he said. On the other hand, a young healthy household may find an in-person system may work better for them.

The same tactic applies to staff — you don’t want to put high-risk staff in harm’s way, he said.

Craven County commissioners who seem to want to reopen classrooms point to neighboring counties — Pitt, Pamlico, Carteret, and Jones — that have been holding on-campus classes.

The Board of Commissioners has requested a board-to-board meeting with the Craven County School Board to answer questions about the school district’s decision to delay on-campus classes during the first nine weeks of school.

That meeting is expected to happen in mid-September.

That should provide plenty of time to see who made the right call, since by that time there should be data about whether on-campus classes led to spikes in COVID-19 cases in those counties.



  1. Common sense from Dr Harrdlson…as opposed to others (nc gov & ncdhhs) who
    mistskenly believe one size fits all….or more
    commonly known as the kindergarten
    mentality…if you dont know who threw the
    eraset them keep everyone in from recess

    Congrats Dr Harrelson…common sense may
    not be orevalent but might posdibly catch
    on….but only to those not politically

  2. Tell all the Republicans to go live in one community and deal with the virus themselves and leave us common sense Democrats to live in peace and safely by the direction of the Scientist and Doctors…Money can’t buy everything they want. Soon the Trumpers will be all gone much quicker than the virus.

  3. Randy- did the Craven Co. school board explain why Craven Co. could not open their schools? I do not think it has to do with contagion rather they could not work out the logistics by the first day of school.

    Does not the county government and school board already coordinate? Why do they have to have a special meeting to discuss coronavirus planning a month from now? Ordering the schools to open does not make the buses move or clean the buildings.

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