Comparing COVID numbers for Southeastern North Carolina school districts

How COVID-19 is impacting schools in the Cape Fear region
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 6:56 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -School districts are making changes — but not all of them.

Whiteville City Schools is the latest school district to move to virtual instruction, and also begin requiring masks. The school district posted on Facebook Monday morning to announce the move to virtual instruction and noted “Over the past week Whiteville City Schools has seen a tremendous increase in the number of COVID related cases among staff and students. This has significantly impacted our ability to continue in-person learning.”

East Bladen High School and West Bladen High School are virtual for the remainder of the week because of staffing shortages due to many either testing positive for COVID-19 or being exposed to the virus.

On Monday night, the Bladen County Board of Education voted to make masks required in schools for the next month. That vote comes not only after those high schools moved to virtual instruction, but because about 11% of staff and students in Bladen County Schools are in quarantine after either testing positive for COVID-19 or being exposed to the virus.

School DistrictMask PolicyNumber of cases/exposuresTotal number of staff and studentsPercent of district in quarantine
Bladen CountyRequired509Approx. 4,60011%
Brunswick CountyOptional723Approx. 14,2005%
Columbus CountyRequired1085,9751.8%
New Hanover CountyRequired33329,2721.1%
Pender CountyOptional2511,5290.2%
Whiteville City SchoolsRequired552,6382.1%

Both Columbus and New Hanover County Schools had mask mandates in place at the start of this semester. Just over 1% of New Hanover County Schools are in quarantine, and just under 2% of Columbus County Schools staff and students are in quarantine.

One Columbus County Board of Education member says keeping students and teachers in schools is a priority right now, so he sees the mask mandate staying in place for at least a month.

“The transmissibility of the new variant, Omicron, is significantly higher than it has been, or has seemed to be, with Delta and even the original version of COVID, so we have to take that into consideration,” said board member Ronnie Strickland. “The kids being in the classroom being the most important thing. Virtual learning is not effective — we’ve heard that resoundingly, we’ve seen that in test results; so, we’re gonna do everything we can to keep our kids and our teachers, more importantly, in the classroom.”

Bladen County Schools and Whiteville City Schools moved to mandate masks starting Tuesday. Brunswick and Pender County Schools remain mask optional.

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