Elementary school in Gaston Co. going virtual after COVID cases confirmed among students, staff

School moving to remote after COVID cases emerge

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Gardner Park Elementary School in Gaston County will be temporarily going back to virtual-only learning after eight people tested positive for COVID-19.

Seven positive cases among both students and staff were confirmed by the district on Friday. Since then, officials say one more case was confirmed and two people are awaiting test results.

The school building, located on Armstrong Park Road, will be closed until Monday, Oct. 26. Students will be on remote learning schedules until that time.

The district sent out a letter to alert parents, employees and students about the new plans.

“Gaston County Schools and the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services have made the decision to close the school building temporarily for students and employees,” the letter stated. “Students and employees should not return to school for in-person instruction until Monday, October 26. Until then, students and teachers will engage in remote learning. Your child’s teacher will be contacting you with information about remote learning.”

The letter also stated that public health officials are conducting contact tracing to identify anyone who may have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, notifying them and advising them about what to do.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, and we thank you for your understanding, patience, and flexibility as we navigate this situation,” the letter read. “Because of our obligation to protect student/employee privacy, the school cannot share the name of a person who has tested positive or any other personally identifiable information. However, the school will keep you updated on any pertinent information.”

Parents are calling it an abrupt change at Gardner Park. From childcare to potentially losing their jobs, the decision made an impact.

“I was kind of stunned at first," says Allison Carter, a parent with a Gardner Park student. “It’s scary because I’ve already come down with symptoms of the covid.”

This was months ago, but still a scary situation for Carter. She does not want her five, three and one year old children to get it.

Brittany Dixon sent her kids to school Monday not knowing just hours later, the district would close the school. “My mouth dropped. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to work thank God for a meemaw," says Dixon.

The call to close the school, made late last night, impacts both moms in separate ways. The closure comes with a risk of Cater losing her job. For Dixon, it means attempting to teach her sons. Carter is also struggling trying to teach her daughter.

“With me trying to balance my 40 if not more hours of work, trying to balance in taking care of my other two children and also trying to get her virtual learning done it’s starting to get overwhelming," says Carter.

“I asked my son Camden what he thought about not going to school and he said bad because I’m not going to learn nothing from you," says Dixon. "We don’t know what we’re doing as parents to be a teacher. It was an abruption.”

It was an abrupt change Dixon says could have been handled better. Dixon got the call around 6:30 p.m. Monday night. She says she also got a call this past weekend confirming seven cases. She feels the school district could have cancelled school then to give parents more time.

“I definitely think that they parents could have been more involved in the closing of our schools because our kids are the ones that’s going there," she says.

The students are learning virtually for the two weeks. Both parents hope this situation will not happen again.

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