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Education

CMS Board Will Discuss What Community COVID-19 Spread Means For In-Person Classes

Meck COVID rate 1021.png
Mecklenburg County Health Department
Mecklenburg County's COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents as of last week.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders will discuss Wednesday whether rising community spread of COVID-19 should stand in the way of K-5 students returning to schools Nov. 2.

Mecklenburg County edged into the red zone last week with 120.7 cases per 100,000 residents. It's the highest level since early August and has been rising for the past two weeks.

If that continues for another week it could signal that in-person classes aren't safe.

But Chief School Performance Officer Kathy Elling says any decisions will be based on several metrics and how they're trending.

"I want to emphasize as we’re walking through this dashboard that no one metric signifies any decision point for the district," Elling said in a live-streamed briefing on the CMS school readiness dashboard Monday afternoon.

This is the fourth week CMS has posted such data, beginning with the return of some students with disabilities on Sept. 29. Last week CMS had eight students test positive for the coronavirus — out of 2,731 special education and pre-K students who are now attending in person. Before that, there had only been one case.

There were 16 cases among 19,100 employees, the highest one-week total since the district began reporting. CMS began offering free, voluntary coronavirus testing to all employees this week. Elling did not discuss whether those results have started coming in.

The CMS board will review the data at its Wednesday meeting — and almost certainly will face criticism whether it moves ahead with the return of K-5 students or delays.

"We believe we are poised to open for K-5," Elling said Monday. She noted that CMS has had no COVID-19 clusters, which are defined by the state as five or more cases that appear to be connected to a school.

And she said elementary schools have enough teachers, bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria staff to open safely.

"We believe we are staffed at a level that allows us to bring K-5 students back into the buildings," Elling said.

Wednesday's CMS board meeting starts at 6 p.m. Members and staff will gather at the Government Center but spectators are not allowed. There is no time scheduled for public comments. The meeting will stream on Facebook and YouTube.

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