RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Two North Carolina school districts with some of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases recently are planning to begin the school year with at least some in-person instruction.
Researchers have mapped the state’s public school districts and color-coded them based on their per capita rate of new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, giving parents and education leaders a new tool as the new academic year begins.
“Districts are making a lot of choices right now, parents are making a lot of choices about whether to send their kids to school in some of the districts that are doing in-person meetings,” said Paul Delamater, a researcher from the University of North Carolina and one of the leaders of the project.
A darker shade of red corresponds to a higher number of cases for every thousand people in that district, and as of Friday afternoon, six districts were colored dark red — indicating a rate of at least four new cases for every 1,000 people.
Two of those districts — Alleghany and McDowell county schools — have plans to start the school year under Plan B, the hybrid option with some in-person instruction at a reduced capacity, according to a state Department of Health and Human Services map.
After the most recent update, Alleghany County Schools had the highest rate in the state at more than 9.2 new cases per thousand while McDowell was second at 4.541.
The other four districts with the highest rates are planning to begin the year with the Plan C model — entirely remote learning.
In the CBS 17 viewing area, the only district showing more than three cases per capita was Nash County Public Schools, at 3.007 cases per thousand people. That district recently voted to start the school year with remote learning.
In the Triangle, there were 1.945 cases per 1,000 people in the Durham Public Schools district. Wake County (1.761), Chapel Hill-Carrboro (0.961) and Orange (0.949) were all at fewer than two cases per capita.
“I do think it’s just helpful to know what’s going on in your community,” Delamater said. “And a school district is one of those types of geographic units where people likely interact with other people from their school district or kids interact with other kids in their school district.”
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