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18 percent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools students in quarantine

More than 3,000 students in quarantine
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:38 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:38 PM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The number of students in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure has surged in Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

As of Friday, there were more than 3,100 students in quarantine, making up 18 percent of the student body. There were also 149 staff in quarantines and 52 positives.

The school system is hopeful that the number of students in quarantine will go down this week as those who were quarantined in the first few days of school will be coming back to class.

There are currently seven schools with classified COVID-19 clusters, including: Landis Elementary, South Rowan High, Corriher Lipe Middle, Southeast Middle, China Grove Elementary, China Grove Middle and West Rowan High. Clusters are defined as a minimum of five cases linked to each other.

A group of local healthcare workers has added its voice to those calling for an extension of the mask mandate in Rowan-Salisbury Schools. The group sent this letter to the Board of Education ahead of Monday’s called meeting:

We are writing today out of concern for the health and welfare of the children of Rowan County. As Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants who provide medical care to your students, we share your mission to protect children as they grow and develop.

Since the beginning of Covid, children have endured significant change, including lack of a consistent inperson education. We start this school year knowing that many children have lost skills, or never gained them, as an unfortunate consequence of keeping them and others safe from Covid infection.

However, we now know there is an incredibly effective and simple tool which, when used by everyone, provides our children with excellent protection against Covid: face masks. Mandatory use of face masks for all students and staff has prevented significant school-based outbreaks of Covid across the country and globally.

We applaud your decision on August 18 to have a temporary mask mandate for RowanSalisbury Schools. We request that you consider extending it. We want you to know we absolutely recommend mandatory use of face masks as children return to school, especially given the rapid rise of cases, and the fact that only a small percentage of our children are eligible for vaccination. We confirm that masks are safe for children to wear. We know that masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19 when worn by everyone. Covid-19 can cause severe illness in babies, children, and teenagers.

Even if children have very mild cases of Covid-19, they are at risk of spreading it to vulnerable family members and friends. Up to ten percent of children who have Covid infection go on to have persistent long-term symptoms which can be debilitating. And even if they do not have any of these alarming outcomes, having a Covid infection or being exposed to means that children (and staff) will miss an extensive amount of school.

We ask that the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education vote to require masks in all Rowan County Schools. It is our recommendation that all children and staff in schools should wear masks until:

1. a vaccine is available for all school-aged children AND

2. “percent positive” population cases in Rowan County declines to less than 5% for 2 weeks in a row.

Sincerely, The Undersigned Physicians and Advanced Practitioners

Name: Specialty: Years of Practice:

Nichole Towns, CPNP Pediatrics 15 years

Erron Towns, MD Pediatrics 17 years

Lyn Nuse, MD, FAAP Pediatrics 27 years

Benjamin Ott, MD Family Medicine 17 years

Bre Walker, PA-C Family Medicine 2 years

Jennifer Hudson, MD Pediatrics 25 years

Stephen O’Brien, MD Pediatrics 26 years

Bethany South, MD Family Medicine 15 years

Fran Misner, PT Physical Therapy 7 years

Erin Grey, MD Obstetrics and Gynecology 6 years

Matthew Storey, MD Internal Medicine-Hospitalist 7 years

Melissa Notemyer, NP Pediatrics 3 years

Mark Lins, MD Pediatrics 28 years

Amy Wilson, MD Internal Medicine 17 years

Danielle Rose, MD Pediatrics 27 years

Leighanne Dorton, MD Otolaryngology 7 years

The Salisbury-Rowan chapter of the NAACP and a group of local ministers have also sent letters to the Board of Education to urge the extension of the mask mandate.

The special meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education will be held Monday, August 30, at 4:00 p.m.

The agenda is now published and may be accessed at https://tinyurl.com/rssboemeetings, or you may visit the school system website at https://www.rssed.org. The meeting will also be live-streamed through the following link: https://vimeo.com/rssboe.

Masks will be required with no exceptions for those attending the meeting in-person.

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