WCPSS says there have been 140 COVID cases in schools in 2 days; considering outdoor mask mandate

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Thursday, August 26, 2021
WCPSS sees 140 COVID cases in 2 days of school
Administrators blamed the more infectious Delta variant for the steep rise in cases.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County's traditional-calendar students went back to class this week and already the district is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

The district said more than 140 cases were reported in the first two days of this week.

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That compares to July when WCPSS schools reported 148 positive cases among staff and students for the whole month.

In August, before traditional-calendar schools opened, those same schools reported more than 500 positive cases.

Administrators blamed the more infectious Delta variant for the steep rise in cases.

For that reason, the district announced some changes Wednesday.

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All schools are being asked to identify as many indoor -- and outdoor -- eating options as possible. That's because the Delta variant is less likely to be transmitted outdoors.

Additionally, beginning next week, all schools that experience a COVID-19 cluster will be required to monitor and report compliance with face-covering guidelines.

The district is also considering starting regular COVID-19 testing for all student-athletes and employees.

Proof of vaccination would preclude students and staff from being tested.

The Board of Education will discuss those considerations at its Sept. 7 meeting.

WCPSS administrators are also considering a requirement that everyone wear face coverings indoors and outdoors on WCPSS campuses. That would include recess, athletics and extracurricular activities.

"This is being considered to reduce quarantines so we can increase daily in-person instruction to as many students as possible," the district said in a note to parents.

Under that option, there would be scheduled "mask breaks."

"We continue to strongly encourage all staff and all students age 12 and older to get vaccinated. Vaccinations do not eliminate the risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant, but they can eventually end this pandemic and allow schools to ease restrictions," the note to parents said.

Wake County parents are reacting after hearing 140 COVID-19 cases were reported the first two days of school this week.

Beth Hedgepeth's 14-year-old son goes to Knightdale High School -- the site where a COVID-19 cluster was reported on Aug. 18, a week after school started.

"I get nervous," Hedgepeth said. "It's really nerve-racking knowing that they have that many cases."

During its upcoming September 7th meeting, the Wake County Public School System board will discuss having students mask up outside, even during recess, athletics and extracurricular activities. Currently, students must wear masks indoors and masking outdoors is optional.

"I don't like that but if it's going to help, I think we should do that so we could still stay in school," said Knightdale High student Jerome Washington, 18.