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More NC Schools Requiring Masks, Some Move To Remote Learning

In this Oct. 26, 2021 file photo, Carolyn Griffin begins the first day of in person classes at Davis Drive Elementary in Cary, NC.
Kate Medley
for WUNC

More North Carolina public school districts have begun requiring masking to prevent or curb the spread of COVID-19.

State Health Director Dr. Betsey Tilson gave an update to the State Board of Education Thursday. She said about 46% of school districts changed their masking policies in the last few weeks to require students and employees to wear masks.

“As of this morning, we're up to 106 of the 115 school districts [that] have moved to masking requirements,” Tilson said. “And that covers about 94% of our children in our public school systems.”

Tilson gave an example of one school that began requiring masks and saw the number of students quarantined drop in a few days.

COVID-19 clusters in schools continue to be a concern. There are 72 active clusters in school settings. A cluster is defined as five or more cases that are linked.

Warren County Schools is one of several districts across the state that has had to turn to remote learning temporarily for some schools starting this week. Vaughan Elementary and Warren County High School made the switch due to staffing shortages.

Warren County Schools Spokeswoman Heather Lawing says the schools were already short-staffed, but having too many people in quarantine from the spread of COVID-19 in the community pushed them over the edge.

“We didn't want to be in a position where we were having to make a significant change at the very last minute when we could see that we were already getting very close to, just being stretched too thin,” Lawing said.

Vaughan Elementary is in remote learning until next Wednesday. Warren County High School is remote until next Thursday.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
Cole del Charco is an audio producer and writer based in Durham. He's made stories for public radio's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace. Before joining Due South, he spent time as a freelance journalist, an education and daily news reporter for WUNC, and a podcast producer for WFAE in Charlotte.
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