Five Iredell County schools going fully virtual due to COVID case increase
IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Five schools in the Iredell-Statesville Schools system have gone fully virtual due to a sharp increase in COVID19 cases in the county.
The first to make the switch from in-person to virtual was East Iredell Middle School. A system spokesperson said that nearly 60% of students at EIMS are sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19. The school’s transition to remote learning will last through Friday, Sept. 10, when the district will re-evaluate the situation.
In addition to East Iredell, four others schools are going virtual:
- West Iredell Middle School
- Lakeshore Middle School
- North Iredell High School
- Central Elementary School
“Our number one priority is to continue with face-to-face learning,” stated ISS spokesperson Boen Nutting. “Sending students home will hopefully mitigate the spread of COVID and allow us to come back healthy on September 13, 2021.”
“We are hopeful that the mandated mask policy will allow us to get back into the classrooms and reduce the spread of COVID as well as the number of close contacts. When individuals aren’t masked or vaccinated, the quarantine rules inhibit our ability to keep kids in classrooms,” stated Nutting. “While our community is utterly divided on the topic of masks, I believe that most of us agree that students need to be in the classroom. That’s our primary goal.”
“As a university educator and the parent of a child in the Iredell-Statesville School system, I’m very concerned about the health of our community, of our staff, and of our children,” said Iredell-Statesville Schools parent Dr. Margaret Quinlan. “We will see in the next 2-3 weeks more detrimental effects of the mask optional requirement.”
Dr. Quinlan is a Professor of Communication Studies at UNC Charlotte. She examines the nexus of public perceptions of medicine, science, and technology, both historically and presently. She investigates the role communication plays in public understandings of medical expertise, illness, wellness, caring, treatment, health, and healing.
Quinlan believes that science acquires meaning through public perceptions and social interactions, interactions situated within social, political, economic, and cultural structures.
“This is a public health issue, not a rights issue,” Quinlan added. “We need to be listening to our public health officials.”
Iredell-Statesville’s Board of Education voted in early August to make masks optional, and nearly everyone in the room on that day supported the idea.
“My child will not go to school in a mask, period,” one parent said, “End of discussion.”
It turns out that there was a lot more to be discussed. Cases and quarantines quickly surged.
“To see the numbers of quarantine and to see the high percentage of children having to stay home from school just in the first two weeks is very upsetting,” Quinlan said.
This week the Board of Education voted to reinstate the mask requirement.
“The science is clear that masks work and they do what we need them to do, we saw the data in ISS last year that masks work,” Quinlan added.
Some thought the requirement would be reinstated all along.
“At a moment’s notice as soon as a kid sneezes or coughs they’re gonna say ‘COVID, COVID!’, and they’re going to mask all the kids,” one person said.
But Dr. Quinlan, who has more than one personal reason to be involved in this issue, says the bottom line is that the mask requirement is a safety issue that goes beyond her family.
“It’s not about protecting me or my family, right, it’s about protecting those outside of our walls and keeping people safe and so anything I can do to aid in that effort is something that I will continue to do until public health officials tell us differently,” Quinlan said.
Dr. Quinlan’s mother-in-law passed away due to the COVID19 Delta Variant on August 8.
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