BY MELINDA SKUTNICK

The Mooresville Graded School District reported a diminished COVID-19 impact among staff and students as classrooms filled earlies this month.

At the Board of Education’s recent meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource Ingrid Medlock noted that staff reports of COVID-19 were at their lowest since monthly reporting began in 2020. Students returned to in-classroom learning on April 5.

Between March 16 and April 13, Medlock said there were 15 staff reports, including 10 staff who were symptomatic or exposed to someone positive for COVID-19. Only one staff member tested positive for COVID-19, although all 15 persons quarantined “for a period of time.” In total, throughout the pandemic, 528 staff members had to quarantine, representing 75 percent of the MGSD staff, with a 17 percent rate of positive tests or 118 people.

Chief Communications Officer Tanae Sump-McLean offered details about the overall and student impact of coronavirus. In addition to the single staff member testing positive, seven students did as well.

Sump-McLean cited community exposures – as opposed to within the school environment – for those cases. She added that 98 students in total quarantined and 74 students were “close contacts.”

The latter number, she continued, is due to the six-foot minimum requirement for contact tracing. Per the district’s full return to the classroom, under the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, only three feet of social distancing is required across grade levels.

The majority of the total 78 close contacts (students and staff) occurred since the district began in-school learning for all ages.

Superintendent Stephen Mauney said this was anticipated.

“We expected when we went back to Plan A that there would be very little social distancing that would be possible,” he told board members. “This is not something that has really caught us off guard. We’re talking to our staff about this, and we’ll continue to communicate it with parents, just the importance of continuing to wear the mask and take the best precautions we can.”

Mauney provided a “guesstimate” that staff vaccinations are as high as 75 percent with 54 percent of staff receiving theirs through the district’s on-site vaccination event.

Said Sump-McLean in response to Board inquiries: “If a teacher has been vaccinated and a student in their classroom tests positive and we find out they were within that six feet for more than 15 minutes, the teacher does not need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms.”

However, if an unvaccinated teacher is a close contact, determined through contact tracing, he or she must quarantine.

Mauney extended appreciation to the entire MGSD family for adhering to increased safety protocols to keep everyone healthy.

“In all the schools that I’ve been in over the last week-plus, I saw zero mask issues. Everyone was wearing them from elementary to middle. It did not seem to be an issue. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and excitement with having everyone back. It’s just a great feeling. Shout out to staff for dedication in reaching this milestone. We wondered if it would ever come.”

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