Meck County reports first COVID-19 cluster at a K-12 school since pandemic started

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Mecklenburg County has reported its first COVID-19 cluster at a K-12 school since the pandemic started.

The cluster was reported Friday at Covenant Day School in Matthews. An entire class is now being quarantined, according to Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris.

Harris spoke at a news conference Friday where she said the private school has six cases among teachers and students, making it the first school in the county with a COVID-19 cluster.

Though the county has had coronavirus cases in some schools, this is the first instance where it has grown into a cluster. A “cluster” is defined as five or more cases that are considered to be within close proximity or location.

Harris attributed the cases to “outside exposures” that were brought into the school. She said health leaders are seeing a lack of social distancing and mask wearing at places of worship and social gatherings.

“We encourage these organizations to help us in our communities as we slow the spread,” she said.

While Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools decided to start the school year with remote learning, private schools in North Carolina were allowed to open for in-person instruction.

According to Harris, schools have been doing a great job enforcing safety guidelines to keep students and staff healthy, but the county still has work to do.

“What these initial clusters have given us an opportunity to do is to make sure they are implementing the plans the way they need to,” she said.

Despite the school cluster, Harris said she supports CMS' phased approach to bring kids back into the classroom next month. She said the county is in the yellow zone for cases and its percentage of positive tests, which helps open the door for students to return to in-person learning at some capacity.

“At this point, we’re comfortable with the plans the schools have put in place. We’re comfortable with the training that they’ve made available to teachers. As with all of our plans, it’s all about the implementation,” she said.

CMS starts its transition to in-person instruction on Oct. 12.

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