Cabarrus County elementary school moves to plan C after 17 COVID cases reported

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — Health officials said on Monday that there were 17 positive COVID-19 cases reported at W.M. Irvin Elementary School in Concord.

As a result, Cabarrus County leaders said the school will move to plan C -- remote learning -- from March 30 to April 1. Classes will reopen April 12 after spring break.

In addition to the COVID-19 positive students, 95 students were placed under quarantine, which represents 19% of the school population.

“We feel very fortunate that this is our first time to have to deal with it,” said Holly Grimsley, school board chairwoman.

Everyone who tested positive is isolated and the people they were in close contact with have been given quarantine orders, officials said.

[WSOC SPECIAL SECTION: RETURN TO LEARNING]

“We appreciate (Cabarrus Health Alliance’s) professional expertise and its guidance. Providing a safe and healthy learning/working environment is among our top priorities. We will continue implementing our established deep-cleaning protocols at Irvin Elementary so that the building is ready for students and staff after spring break,” said Brian Schultz, CCS interim superintendent.

The district was one of the earliest in our area to call for in-person instruction.

“We were glad we could return kids,” Grimsley said. “We hate this. It’s unfortunate that it happened at all, but we have done what parents asked us to do to get their kids back in class.”

Some parents said that being back in school is a risk worth taking.

“At a certain point, it’s gonna happen,” parent Ann Baldwin said. “I don’t think we opened up any sooner than we should have.”

Health officials have been unable to identify a link between the positive cases to signify a COVID-19 cluster.

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State health leaders say “a cluster in an educational setting is five or more cases with initial positive results within a 14-day period and the ability to verify that the cases were present in the same setting during the same time period.”

Links in a school setting could include being in the same classroom, riding the same bus or attending the same after school program.

Parents received a Blackboard Connect phone call and email from the school’s principal on Monday afternoon.

Those with children at Irvin Elementary School are encouraged to contact their primary care provider if they or their child begin to experience COVID-19 symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, and loss of taste or smell. If they do not have a primary care provider, contact CHA’s Call Center at 704-920-1213.