New quarantines fell below 200 last week for the first time this school year

Published 3:17 pm Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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Stanly County Schools reported 154 students and staff were quarantined for the week of Oct. 17-23, according to updated data from the district’s COVID-19 online dashboard, the sixth consecutive week that cases have declined since hitting the peak of close to 1,600 in early September.

This is the first time in the school year that the county has recorded less than 200 quarantines. The total accounts for less than two percent of the estimated 9,400 students and staff across the district. It also represents a 62 percent decrease from the 409 quarantines recorded for the week of Oct. 10-16.

Almost every school saw its quarantine numbers decline compared to the week prior. Albemarle Middle experienced the largest decrease with 28 students and staff now back at school, followed by Endy Elementary and Richfield Elementary with 22 each and Central Elementary with 21.

Only one school, Millingport Elementary, saw a slight increase in quarantines. It recorded six, up from three the week prior.

For the first time this year, not a single school had 20 people quarantined (the highest total was 18 at Norwood Elementary), a major improvement from previous weeks, and only four schools had totals in the double digits. Ten schools had more than 20 people quarantined the week prior including two schools which had more than 30. By comparison, for the week of Sept. 12-18, five schools had quarantine numbers near or exceeding 100 with one even approaching 200.

The district also reported 16 students and staff who were identified as having tested positive with COVID-19, a 50 percent decrease from the 32 people who were positive the week prior. Similar with quarantines, the number of students and staff who have contracted the virus have decreased significantly in the last couple of weeks. Only about a month ago, 128 people were identified as positive for the week of Sept. 12-18.

Fourteen schools had no students or staff identified as positive for the week, according to the data, an improvement from the nine such schools the week before. No school recorded more than three positives.

The decline in cases within the schools mirror the overall decline in cases throughout the county over the past few weeks. The health department reported 119 cases last week, a 30 percent decrease from the week before and a 66 percent decrease a month ago, when 345 cases were reported for the week of Sept. 24. Other key COVID metrics, such as daily hospitalizations, have also been decreasing.

With the environment improving, the school board voted last Thursday to make masks optional, which went into effect this week. The decision was made because Stanly’s 14-day rolling average positivity rate finally dipped below 7.9 percent, which was the threshold agreed upon during the board’s meeting in August. The rate has continued to decrease and is currently at 6.4 percent, according to data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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