Rising number of cases is affecting the district’s ability to hold classes

The Craven County Board of Education will hold a special called meeting to consider the impact of COVID-19 infection in the community and implications for returning to school in January for staff and students.

The meeting will be held on at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, at the Central Office located at 3600 Trent Road, New Bern, North Carolina.

So far this school year, 47 staff members and 44 students have tested positive for COVID-19. In December so far, 12 staff and 24 students have been sickened with the virus.

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“In light of the positive cases and number of staff and students needing to be quarantined since the Thanksgiving Holiday, we want to be sure that we have sufficient staff to resume our plans to transition to Plan A for elementary students and transition more middle and high school students to additional days of instruction,” school spokeswoman Jennifer Wagner said in a news release.

“Health and safety have continued to be the top priority in all of the decisions that have been made during the pandemic. The safety protocols we have systematically followed in our buildings like wearing face coverings, conducting symptom screening, and observing all Centers for Disease Control guidelines for isolation of positive individuals and quarantine of close contacts have made our school environments very safe,” she said.

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The Board of Education knows that these processes are critical to supporting our educators and students’ safety and well-being in the midst of a once-in-a century event, she said

Wagner said the quarantine and isolation of staff is affecting the school district’s ability to provide instruction and adequate supervision.

“When staff members have to quarantine due to being a close contact when someone tests positive, we do not always have enough coverage in the classroom to continue teaching and learning, serve school meals, provide transportation, and all of the many essential functions necessary to successfully manage the day-to-day operations of a school,” Wagner said.

The Board of Education will consider options based on the latest community infection data and staff impact data available to them on this date to make a decision.

“We are providing this notice today to ensure that families have ample time to make plans in the event there are changes to current school operations and schedules,” Wagner said. “We continue to ask our community to please help stop the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to wear your mask, socially distance, and wash your hands on a regular basis. Please also consult the NCDHHS website for information about how to keep your family safe during the holidays.”

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