RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An updated map from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows an uptick in COVID-19 cases in North Carolina. 

Forty-one counties are now shaded in orange, the highest community level of COVID-19. 

It’s also more than 10 times as many counties as there were just two weeks ago.

“What’s different with this one is that it has an increasing ability to evade the antibodies that the vaccines induce in the body, as well as the antibodies that are made after a person recovers from an infection after an earlier variant,” David Montefiori, a Duke University Professor and Virologist, said.

Now, the rapid spread of new COVID-19 variant BA.5 is causing some schools to take precaution.

At Sallie B Howard School of Arts and Sciences in Wilson, executive director JoAnne Woodard, said the school will be requiring students to get a COVID-19 test three days before the start of school. 

“We will do the same thing this year as we’ve done in the past,” she said. “The difference may be whether or not mask-wearing is voluntary.”

The school recently sent out a survey to parents asking for their input on if masks should be required. 

Woodard said while the decision will be entirely up to the board, they also want input from parents and staff on whether masks should be required in school.

“It’s important because we want to hear from parents, teachers and staff to know what they are comfortable with that’s going to have an impact on the boards’ decision.”

Montefiori said though the new variant is spreading quickly, vaccines are helping. 

“The vaccines are still working, that’s the good news, but you do have to get boosted because immunity goes down overtime,” Montefiori said.

CBS 17 reached out to Wake County Schools to see if they plan to take any more precautions ahead of the upcoming school year.

They said they are following current CDC guidelines.