Bladen County high schools move to remote learning due to COVID-related staffing shortages

Two high schools go virtual because of COVID outbreak among staff
Published: Jan. 9, 2022 at 10:45 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 7:42 PM EST
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BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - East Bladen High School and West Bladen High School will both move to remote learning beginning Monday, January 10 through Friday, January 14, the county school district announced Sunday.

In a series of Facebook posts, Bladen County Schools said both schools will transition to remote learning this week because of the number of staff members either testing positive for or being exposed to COVID-19.

As of Monday afternoon 23 staff members have tested positive in schools throughout the county and 16 staff members have been exposed.

Looking at cases in students across the county—86 of them have tested positive and 384 students have been exposed. 92 of those students who have been exposed are showing symptoms, so that number of positive students could be even higher over the next few days.

Parents said they wish that moving classes virtually was a more permanent situation, but hope to at least have masks required in schools again.

“As a parent I’m gonna fight for my child and every other child that is exposed to this. We have this new Omicron variant out and God knows what else. I’m not gonna put my life as risk, my daughters life at risk when it’s not safe,” said East Bladen High School parent Sarah Smith. “Before they step up and say hey there’s a problem here, let’s do something about it, let’s stop it, let’s do virtual, let’s require a mask mandate everywhere, lets do what we have to do, I mean what’s it gonna take?”

Parents from other schools in the district believe it’s only a matter of time before other schools also move to virtual instruction, whether there is a mask mandate or not.

Beginning Tuesday the district is accepting applications again for parents who wish to move their student to virtual instruction for the remainder of the school year. “BCS will only allow 10 percent of student populations at each school to learn virtually,” Bladen County Schools said in a Facebook post. “Applications will not be accepted after January 28, 2022; this opportunity is only being offered until January 28, 2022.”

Click here for the application and more information on virtual learning.

The school system also announced the following measures are in place for athletics for both schools this week:

“As a precautionary measure at East and West Bladen High School, home basketball games for Wednesday, January 12, will be closed to the general public. All home team players and cheerleaders will be eligible to have up to 5 tickets for their family. Names of attendees will be turned in by student athletes to their coaches. The list will be at the ticket booth and only those authorized attendees may purchase a ticket for entry. For the visiting teams, their players and cheerleaders will be eligible to have up to 2 tickets for their family. Names of attendees will be sent from respective schools and will be available at the ticket booth. Only those authorized attendees from the visiting team may purchase a ticket for entry.

“All off-season sports workouts will be canceled for this week. In addition, due to the number of positive cases and exposures for middle school athletes, the county-wide basketball tournament scheduled for this week at Clarkton School of Discovery has been canceled.”

The Board of Education voted Monday night at its monthly meeting to make masks mandatory in schools.

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