Craven County Schools officials say that “most, if not all” the 55 infections of staff and students during the eight months of the current school year have been due to contacts outside the school.

Craven County Schools employees take “extraordinary measures daily to ensure the health of everyone in our buildings,” the school district said in a news release.

For more New Bern Post COVID-19 and health coverage, go here.

Craven County Schools’ elementary schools will be shifting to in-school, four-day weeks starting on Jan. 7, 2021.

This follows direction from state officials, who say that younger children are less likely to be come infected, have symptoms, experience severe disease, or spread the virus.

Not only are the elementary-grade students returning to school, they do so to full classrooms of the likes they had before the pandemic.

That’s because the state is requiring minimal social distancing.

Middle and high school students will continue either all-remote classes, or a hybrid of one day in-school and three days remote learning.

“The ability to return elementary students to Plan A relies upon our teachers and staff being free from illness and exposure to COVID-19,” Craven County Schools announced.

So far this school year, Craven County Schools has reported 30 staff members and 22 students have tested positive for COVID-19 (details here).

Craven Schools officials said that most, if not all, of the source of infection of positive cases at the schools has been the result of contacts outside the school. As of Nov. 19, 2020, there have been 2,715 cases of COVID-19 recorded since mid-March.

Of those cases, 196 are active and 11 hospitalized, including two on ventilators.

Right now, there are 196 active cases. Up to now, 573 cases were due to community spread, 226 are unknown, and 161 are still being investigated.

Community rates of infection generally increase after breaks or significant events. Increased cases have been observed after Labor Day and Halloween for example, the school district said.

School officials anticipate the same impacts after Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11), Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), and the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays.

Jan. 7, 2021 was decided as the start date for elementary students to return to school under Plan A because of those trends and to contribute to the best chances of consistency in attendance after the holidays, according to a statement.

“This consistency will help our students have the continuity of teaching and learning they need to succeed at the highest levels this school year,” the statement read.

Wednesdays will provide time for custodial staff dedicated to thoroughly clean all classrooms and school spaces in ways that are difficult when there is high traffic.

In addition, this will help teachers have the time for professional learning and planning that will be necessary to meet the needs of not only the students who are coming in person, but those who may have to be quarantined due to COVID-19 or other illness.

“We have asked a great deal of our educators this year, and this time is important for them to be able to complete all that is required to support the many options we have to provide to students during the 2020-2021 school year,” the statement read.

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