After meeting for 7+ hours, Wake County school leaders table widespread COVID-19 testing, new mask rules

COVID-19 and schools

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — The number of COVID-19 clusters in North Carolina schools jumped by 70 percent in the last week. Wake County has the most schools with clusters with 15. That’s an increase of three from last week.

Those concerning trends prompted the school board to consider changes at its meeting Tuesday.

That meeting went on for more than seven hours and no big decisions were made. The school board tabled requiring testing for unvaccinated staff and student-athletes. It also left the current mask rules in place.

First, the board heard from the experts on the trends. COVID-19 cases are up, and more staff and students need to be vaccinated. Data, they explained, show most of the spread is happening in schools.

District officials said with more than 10,000 students, the county’s virtual academy is full. They explained having quarantined students take part isn’t an option.

Parents also had the chance to weigh in. More than 20 of them did.

“I strongly feel that the board has not and is not doing enough to protect my child,” parent John Scarborough said.

“It’s not your job to protect my child. That’s my job,” another parent said.

The district considers its priority keeping schools open and students and staff safe.

The district started surveying staff about whether or not they’re vaccinated. It said 88.5 percent reported being vaccinated. WCPSS has 15,300 employees and leaders haven’t heard back from 3,800 of them.

Then there’s testing for the unvaccinated. The district said 244 schools and districts are taking part in a state program that pays for it.

To do that, you must apply by Sept. 13. The district would then need to hire people. It would be paid for through July 31, 2022.

With no specific plans for how it would work, the board tabled it. The superintendent said she would look into the deadline to ensure Wake County would still qualify.

Then masking came up. Last week the district started requiring student-athletes to start wearing face coverings outdoors when they’re not working out.

Some board members questioned how much authority staff was given. In the end, the board approved it.

New state law requires districts to vote on mask policies once a month.

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