‘Need to wake up’: Elementary school temporarily closes after 5 teachers test positive for COVID-19

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — Iron Station Elementary School in Lincoln County will be closed to students until Aug. 30 after five teachers at the school tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

“This decision was not easy, and we certainly wish there were better alternatives,” Superintendent Lory Morrow said Monday in a news release. “However, in working together with our health department, we feel this is the best course of actions at this time to protect students and staff as well as to conduct surveillance and mitigation efforts so we can may continue our plans to have a modified, but positive school year going forward.”

Health officials are working on contact tracing with the five teachers.

The school board chair said they know the first teacher to test positive didn't contract the virus on campus and said they are fairly certain the three who followed didn't either.

The last teacher tested positive over the weekend.

Christopher Hancock's 12-year-old cousin had her first day cut short.

"She was kinda freaked out when she found out she had teachers there that did have COVID," Hancock said.

He said she is getting tested for the virus to be safe.

Hancock’s cousin lives with him and his 3-year-old daughter

He said school officials had to know something wasn't right.

“They need to open their eyes,” Hancock said. “There is something going on and they are going to risk kids, little kids at that. I don’t think that’s safe.”

It was an unfortunate incident, but students were safe, Lincoln County School Board Chairwoman Cathy Davis said.

"None of those staff members were at school Monday when children arrived," Davis said.

She said the decision to close campus was because they reached a critical number of five positives cases officially creating a cluster.

“The students who reported (to class) wore face masks,” Davis said. “Staff had face masks. There were hand-washing stations. We are following the (three) Ws.”

The state department said to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, people must follow the three Ws: “Wear. Wash. Wait.”

Only half of the students were on campus Monday.

Now, everyone is doing at-home learning while the school goes through a deep cleaning for the next two weeks.

The students who went to school Monday did not get Chromebooks for studying at home, and they can't come back on campus to get the computers.

Parents will get instructions by email to go the school administration building to pick up computers for their children.

Some parents said they are worried that this will slow the learning process for their students.

Others said they are worried about new cases popping up at other schools.


Staff members will work from home and continue to provide Plan C remote instruction and support to students during this time.

The school will remain closed to staff through Aug. 24.

[Here’s a look at how Gaston County Schools are keeping students safe]

Custodians will return to clean the campus facilities Aug. 25-27.

All other staff will be able to return to the school in person on Aug. 28 to prepare for students’ return to school on Aug. 31.

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Statement from school district:

“Lincoln County Schools announced on Monday August 17, 2020 that Iron Station Elementary School will be closed to in-person learning on campus until August 30, 2020. The school will operate under Plan C, remote learning only, with no face-to-face instruction. During the school closure, students will be provided with remote instruction using Google Classroom and remote learning packets. A Chromebook device will be available for checkout by students in grades 3-5 that do not have a device at home.

“Parents may checkout a device and pickup paper learning packets for children in grades K-5 at LCS Central Services located at 201 Jeb Seagle Drive, Lincolnton on Wednesday from 2-7 p.m. Iron Station Elementary students’ classroom teachers will contact students on Thursday (8-20) and Friday (8-21) of this week with additional details about remote learning for their classroom.

“Iron Station Elementary will reopen for in-person learning on campus on Monday, August 31, 2020. Students will resume staggered entry for their assigned day. The first day for combined cohorts on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday will be September 8, 2020. Parents should continue to monitor the LCS webpage and email for additional updates during the school closure.”