Person County school reports COVID-19 cluster just days after transition to in-person learning

COVID-19 and schools

ROXBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — A cluster of COVID-19 cases forced Person County Schools to temporarily pause in-person learning at Helena Elementary School, a school about eight miles south of Roxboro.

According to school officials, seven people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Helena Elementary, which includes both students and staff.

The COVID-19 cluster comes less than a week after Person County Schools transitioned all elementary schools to Plan A, which is in-person learning.

In a message sent to parents on Monday, district officials said that all students at Helena Elementary would transition from Plan A to remote learning beginning Tuesday through Nov. 5.

The message said out of an abundance of caution, some students will need to quarantine. District officials said parents of those children have already been contacted the school.

Crystal Strickland’s daughter, Julieann, attends Helena Elementary and she said she was not surprised when she heard about the COVID-19 cluster.

“I figured this was going to happen,” Strickland said. “When you have a large group of bodies, and with everything that’s been going on in the United States, I just figured it was only a matter of time.”

CBS 17 reached out to school and county health officials to find out at what point the district would decide to take elementary schools back to Plan B, which is hybrid learning.

Janet Clayton, health director for the Person County Department of Health, said in an email that at this time there is no reason to take extreme measures system-wide.

She said that the health department will continue to work with the school district and closely monitor the number of COVID-19 cases among school-aged children.

Officials with Person County Schools said they are prepared to move backward if case counts, the safety of students and staff, or other situations warrant them to do so. However, the district did not get anymore specific than that.

While all elementary schools in Person County transitioned to Plan A last Wednesday, the district is still giving students in all grades the option of virtual learning.

Strickland’s daughter Julieann has been attending all of her classes at Helena Elementary virtually since the beginning of the school year.

“It’s really easy, I just can’t understand why they would want to open up schools,” Strickland said.

She added that she thinks all students should still be learning virtually.

“There’s been hundreds of kids all over the United States who have COVID-19, I don’t understand why they’re not taking it more seriously,” Strickland said.

Helena Elementary will resume in-person classes on Friday, Nov. 6.

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