Watauga Schools begin week two of K-3 in-person learning, COVID-19 update

Last Updated on October 12, 2020 2:11 pm

The Watauga County School system began the second week of in-person learning for K-3 students today, Monday Oct 12. The district is operating on the 2×3 Plan B Flex Schedule laid out over the summer that splits students into two cohorts. Half of the students attend on Monday and Tuesday, the other half on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays are a remote learning day during which school facilities are deep cleaned.

Grades 4-12 are set to return to in-person instruction on the same schedule on Oct. 19.

“The return of our k-3 students to in-person instruction went very well,” Watauga County Schools Spokesman Garrett Price told in recapping last week's return. “All of our schools did a great job implementing our screening, check-in and safety procedures and it was great to see students back in school buildings after so long. We very much appreciate the help and support of our parents while we work through our safety protocols that help keep our students, teachers and staff safe in school buildings.” 

Photo: Parkway First Grade Teacher Kristina Shableski leads her Cohort A Class through a calendar lesson. K-3 students returned to in-person instruction in Watauga County Schools on Oct. 5.

The school system continues COVID-19 preventive measures with some new changes coming.

“Effective immediately, I am requiring that any student athletes or coaches who are placed into isolation or quarantine as a result of close contacts to be tested and submit to the school nurse a negative COVID test before being allowed to return to practice or play.”, Dr. Scott Elliott, Superintendent of Watauga County Schools, tells “This is in addition to and regardless of any direction or requirements from the health department.”, he also stated.

“I am implementing this requirement as part of additional safeguards and restrictions in order to protect the health and safety of our students and school. Based on our experience last week with outside of school activities and the lack of cooperation from some parents, this additional precaution is now necessary.”, Dr. Elliott added.

Anyone who refuses to cooperate with this and any other requirements (face masks, screening, isolation, etc.) will be immediately suspended from athletics.

Dr. Elliott also said that starting this past Friday, any student or staff member who is actively symptomatic and has a negative antigen test result will also need to provide either a negative laboratory test result or a note from a medical provider before returning to school. This is to provide further safeguards that a COVID positive person does not return to school due to a false negative antigen test.

The school system continues to monitor community wide COVID numbers and the impact on school operations. “While the majority of recent positive tests are among the 18-24 year old population, we are still seeing cases among school age children and school staff members.”, Dr. Elliott noted.

Last week (Oct 5-9) the school system saw the highest set of numbers since March. School nurses conducted 64 investigations of symptomatic students/staff or close contacts of known positive cases just last. “We saw four new cases among staff and six new cases among students. The majority of the investigations and positive cases stem from a single community event where appropriate precautions were not being taken.”, Dr. Elliott stated.

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