2 weeks in, handful of COVID-19 cases not deterring Thales Academy from return to classrooms

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One group of schools has been back in session for two weeks while districts across North Carolina are making tough decisions about whether or not to return to the classroom.

Thales Academy reopened its eight campuses in North Carolina last month but has already had multiple cases of COVID-19.

“I believe that kids are safer in the school than any other place because you’ve got a whole team of people watching them. We’re engaging in every safety practice we’re aware of,” said Thales Academy founder and chairman Robert Luddy.

Since reopening on July 20, two students and a staff member in training, all at different schools, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Luddy said the entire classes quarantined at home for two weeks, per protocol from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, a fourth-grade class and teacher at Thales Academy’s Wake Forest pre-K through fifth-grade campus are quarantining at home.

Luddy stressed there has been no transmission of cases within the school.

“I would say, for all intents and purposes, it’s working perfectly at Thales. The fact that two students contracted COVID at home, they would have contracted COVID anyhow. Are we going to close down a whole school system for absolutely no reason at all? No, we’re not going to do it,” Luddy said.

Thales Academy operates on a year-round system. Luddy felt it was important to get kids back in the classroom so they could continue their education.

“We determined many years ago that it’s important for kids to be continuously in school because when they gap, they begin to forget and they lose their focus. Now we’d had a very long gap that’s never existed before,” he said.

School districts across the state are deciding how to operate during the pandemic. The Wake County Public School System will begin online instruction later this month, with plans to return to classrooms in October.

Luddy says about a third of Thales students are taking classes online in this session. He said families have a choice of in-person or virtual learning.

“Online is second best, but it’s just not as good frankly,” he said.

Luddy said he’s received numerous emails from schools around the county asking for Thales Academy’s reopening strategy.

He said parents fill out paperwork each morning acknowledging their child is healthy and staff take the students’ temperatures. Social distancing is practiced in the classrooms which undergo extra cleaning, according to Luddy.

“For the leaders and the teachers, it puts a lot more stress on them. Now they don’t only have to worry about discipline and teaching. They have to worry about safety at a much higher level,” said Luddy.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence visited Thales Academy’s Apex campus. Luddy said Pence wanted to recognize that school reopened and students are doing well.

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