Stanly School Board reports COVID spread ‘well within’ expected range

ALBEMARLE — The Sept. 1 Stanly County Board of Education meeting was dominated by discussions of the district’s plan to safely teach students during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Despite some spread among staff and students, Jeff Chance, who represents District 1 on the board, presented numbers that he says show their plan is working.  

Chance began his comments by encouraging those implementing the district’s plan, thanking them for “the diligence that you’ve put into it, and certainly the hours and time spent primarily on doing something none of us ever expected we’d have to, and being in a situation none of us ever dreamed we’d be in.” 

He laid out numbers for the district that showed, as of Aug. 30, there had been 115 students in quarantine, 15 students who have tested positive, 33 employees in quarantine and 17 employees who have tested positive.  

“So as you can see, our numbers are not greatly above the percentages that the health department had anticipated,” Chance said.  

Chance said that he has kept in regular contact with David Jenkins, Stanly County’s Health and Human Services director, and said, “He assures me, we are well within the expectation of numbers of both quarantined and positive tests where we are in no danger of proceeding to continue with face-to-face learning and virtual.” 

While the district is within the predicted numbers for COVID spread, Chance said purely virtual learning is still available: “And we encourage those folks who are uncomfortable for any reason and want to do that to go through the proper channels and make that happen.” 

Considering the large number of employees and students, Chance said “the percentage here is quite low.” 

He also indicated that many who are in quarantine are not likely to have the disease, but are merely in quarantine “as precautionary measures only based on circumstances.” 

An example he gave of that was at Badin Elementary, which had been closed for a period. 

“The reason that school was closed was primarily for a deep cleaning, but also because the number had risen fairly quickly out there among staff.” 

The Stanly County School System is operating under Plan B, which is one of the three plans Gov. Roy Cooper had asked districts to prepare for the year. After a period of uncertainty on which of these plans would be allowed, Cooper told districts that Plans B and C would be permitted — meaning plans that were partially remote and plans that were fully remote. Stanly’s plan falls under “Plan B” and involves both face-to-face instruction and remote learning components.  

So I just want to encourage everyone that we are doing well,” Chance said, concluding his remarks. “Our plan is working, I think, obviously with the kinks we already talked about tonight that we are going to be working on and addressing. I want everyone to feel that this board takes the health and wellbeing of our students and our teachers and our staff as our No. 1 priority.”