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Education

Staff Cases Of COVID-19 Doubled In CMS Last Week, New Report Shows

Empty classroom CMS 2.jpg
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

The number of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees testing positive for COVID-19 rose to 60 last week, up from 30 the previous week, based on the district's latest metrics report.

The district reported 30 student cases out of approximately 41,7000 attending in person. That compares with 18 the previous week.

Seventy-six of the district’s 176 schools have had cases during the past two weeks -- including six new cases among student athletes at Hough High School. Hough had nine cases last week, including staff. David Cox Road Elementary logged six total cases. (Read the full list here.)

CMS tracks cases only among students who are attending schools in person or participating in athletic practices where the virus could spread. Most middle and high school students aren't part of the tally now, nor are students at any grade level attending the district's Full Remote Academy.

Chief School Performance Officer Kathy Elling said neither has been classified as a cluster, which would signal five or more cases that health officials believe were contracted through school transmission.

Elling said eight schools have at least 15 people quarantined. People who have had contact with someone who tests positive must quarantine for 14 days, but they're not counted as cases unless they also test positive.

The weekly CMS "readiness dashboard" reports are designed to provide a public glimpse of numbers district leaders monitor as they decide when and how to bring students back in person.

For a fifth week, Mecklenburg County's community spread rate was in the red zone and rising. It inched past 200 cases per 100,000 residents last week.

Red levels can indicate a need to stop in-person classes, though officials have said they're looking at a balance of all measures, rather than basing decisions on any single indicator.

Mecklenburg's positivity rate and the district's staffing levels for nursing, transportation and cafeterias are in the yellow zone. Staffing for teacher and custodians are in the green zone, as are measures of building readiness.

Elementary schools have held distanced in-person rotations since Nov. 2, and the number of student and staff cases have been rising steadily during those three weeks. Weekly cases remain well under 1% of staff and students, but the upward trend is likely to inflame debate over the wisdom of bringing older students back.

About 1,500 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who attend K-8 schools will start in-person classes next week, joining younger classmates. Middle and high schools are scheduled to start in-person classes Jan. 5.