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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Southwest Charlotte Charter School Has A COVID-19 Cluster

Steele Creek Preparatory Academy
Steele Creek Preparatory Academy
Steele Creek Preparatory Academy

Steele Creek Preparatory Academy in southwest Charlotte became the first Mecklenburg County public school on the state's COVID-19 cluster list Tuesday.

The list says two students and three staff members have tested positive, but a school spokesman says four students are sick with COVID-19.

The state defines school clusters as five or more cases that appear to have spread at the school. Most of the schools reporting clusters are private schools, which don't have to follow state safety rules for public schools. The list posted Tuesday includes seven student cases at the private Covenant Day School in Matthews.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has had no clusters so far, but Gaston County Schools and Iredell-Statesville Schools, which started in-person classes earlier, have had clusters.

Steele Creek Prep, which will eventually serve K-8 students, opened in 2019. It was founded by former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour and is part of the Charter Schools USA chain. Charter schools are public schools that report to independent nonprofit boards, rather than school districts.

Ridenhour said Wednesday one grade level has moved into remote-only classes for 14 days because of the COVID-19 cases. He said one student in that grade level initially tested positive, but three more got sick after they were sent home.

Steele Creek Prep offers families a choice of all-remote, all in-person or a combination of styles. Ridenhour says the school will continue with screening and sanitation measures to control the virus.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.