Admins stepping in to help teach students as COVID-19 impacts staffing

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — There are so many teachers who are quarantined due to COVID-19 that administrators with the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education are stepping into classrooms to help teach students.

Some officials said that if things continue at this rate, the district may soon have to close schools and possibly revert to virtual learning.

“The best education you can get is in a school building,” said board member Brian Hightower.

[Mecklenburg County health director sends letter of COVID recommendations to CMS superintendent]

The latest data shows that 31 employees and 94 students currently have COVID-19. Those cases have forced 70 employees and 1,878 students out of the classroom to quarantine or isolate because they have the virus or came in close contact with someone who does.

School officials said at a meeting Monday night that the situation is impacting schools, hindering the district’s ability to teach students.

“Our administration school nurses are spending tremendous amount of time on contact tracing and quarantine and exclusion, notifying families with that high number of quarantines,” said Kelly Withers, chief schools officer.

[FDA warns doctors not to prescribe COVID-19 vaccines to kids under 12]

“One school in my district had 12 staff out today,” Hightower said. “All but one teacher assistant had to cover a classroom due to no subs because you can’t get them. Only two cafeteria workers were present. They had to call in help from central office. That’s what your central office is doing.”

School board members have not decided what to do when the mask mandate expires next week, but the superintendent has suggested extending it.

“Strongly consider extending the mask mandate to the next board meeting on Sept. 13 or consider going to the end of first quarter, so parents can plan and not be on pins and needles,” Superintendent Tony Watlington Sr. said.

An emergency meeting could be set to discuss the policy.

Some have said the biggest problem is the quarantine policy and suggested changing it. However, rules on quarantine are set by local and state officials.

(Watch the video below: Gaston charter school reverses decision on masks after COVID-19 outbreak among staff)