Brunswick County Schools make Thursday and Friday workdays, will require masks Tuesday

COVID surge creates teacher shortage in Brunswick County
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 9:29 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:42 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The Brunswick County Board of Education unanimously passed a motion to make Thursday and Friday of this week workdays for county schools.

At an emergency meeting called for Wednesday, the board also agreed to require staff and students to wear masks when they return to school on Tuesday.

“We are being faced with a staffing shortage in multiple school locations. Lots of students out. I know this board has been committed to having students in the classroom as much as possible, and so I asked us to come together this morning so we can reevaluate COVID policies and protocols and how we’re doing things and if there’s a better way moving forward,” said school board chairman Steven Barger.

There are around 160 absences county-wide, and only about 40% of teaching positions are filled currently. Even with absences, the goal is to fill around 65%-70% of those positions. Some high school principals in the county have been covering up to three classes at a time, in addition to district staff members that have been covering various classes to make sure that each class is accounted for.

Wanda Willis, Brunswick County School Nurse Supervisor says that for every positive COVID test about 10 others are sent home to quarantine because of exposure. “I think it’s fair for us to start right here,” Willis said. “Come back with a mask and see if we can lower our numbers.”

Board members mutually agreed that putting masks back in place was a last resort option to avoid going virtual.

“To keep them in school, getting them educated, is so important,” said vice-chair Robin Moffitt. “Masks optional just didn’t work, so I think we have no choice,” said board member Harry Lemon.

“We were elected to these positions to make tough decisions that are uncomfortable at times, but if we’re going to keep our kids learning and we’re gonna do what were elected to do, which is provide a good adequate education in Brunswick County, I feel this is the best way to prevent us from going virtual,” Barger said.

Giving staff and students the five-day quarantine is something that the board hopes will allow everyone to reset and slow the spread of the virus so everyone can be in school.

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