Brunswick County Schools sees significant decrease in COVID cases and quarantines

Brunswick County Schools reverted to mask-optional to reflect COVID trends
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 7:59 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Less than a month ago the Brunswick County Board of Education voted to make Thursday, January 13th and Friday, January 14th workdays, so staff and students had an automatic 5-day quarantine with the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

When the district went back to school after winter break, masks were optional, but cases and quarantines were rising quickly. “Going through January we started to see those numbers increase, specifically the quarantine numbers but also the COVID numbers, which we kind of knew was a potential after the holiday,” Brunswick County Board of Education chairman Steven Barger said.

On January 12th the school board held an emergency meeting where they not only voted to have two workdays, but also voted to make masks mandatory when students returned in person on Tuesday, January 18th.

“We don’t want to put masks on our children, but at the same time we want our children in schools, so to avoid virtual learning, that’s why the masks were put on; that’s why we did the built-in five day quarantine utilizing two of our weather days as we call them,” Barger said. “We want kids to be in school. We’ve all thought and discussed and said virtual learning has hurt every student whether it’s their mental health, their specific education, and their ability to learn virtually.”

At the time, the district was facing a major staffing shortage when faced with the decision, as well as a large number of students being out for testing positive for COVID-19 or exposure to someone who might have tested positive.

Nearly 4% of the district was out that week, and about two weeks later, the district is only missing about 1% of their staff and students in person.

“Cases are down and talking with the health department, they believe we are at the top or coming down on that bell curve of the spike after the Christmas holiday,” Barger said.

Tuesday night the Brunswick County Board of Education voted to make masks optional starting February 14th.

“So, we hope to continue to ride that out and that’s why we’re giving it another two weeks to let those numbers come down even more and get out of the spike,” Barger said. “We’re really working collectively to make the best decisions for students, keep them in the classrooms, keep them learning, and avoid virtual learning as much as possible district wide.”

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