Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials discuss monkeypox plan, staff vacancies, student meals ahead of first day

CMS held a news conference Friday to discuss preparations ahead of the new school year, which starts Monday.
CMS students will return to school this coming Monday.
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 9:52 AM EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – District leaders with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools laid out their plan when it comes to monkeypox for the 2022-2023 school year.

This comes just a day after Mecklenburg County health officials confirmed a child has tested positive for the virus.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Complete coverage here

This comes just a day after Mecklenburg County health officials confirmed a child has tested positive for monkeypox.

Treva Johnson, a coordinated school health specialist for CMS, said during Friday morning’s news conference that district leaders are in continued contact with Mecklenburg County Public Health regarding monkeypox.

“We don’t want to cause any type of alarm and that we want them to know we are in constant contact with the Mecklenburg County Health Public Health Department and that we se formalizing a plan of action and we will have details ready for the opening of school on Monday,” Johnson said.

Health leaders made a recommendation for CMS to develop an exposure and response plan, according to Johnson.

The district also received directives from the county health department, with many features of CMS’ COVID-19 response plan being applicable to monkeypox, Johnson said.

More than 120 cases of monkeypox have been reported in Mecklenburg County, including one in a child.

Monica Adamian, CMS’ coordinated school health specialist, said COVID-19 protocols continue to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as guidance from state and local health leaders.

Adamian noted the district discontinued COVID-19 quarantines for close contacts last year.

The new school year begins Monday, Aug. 29, for the district’s more than 140,000 students who are spread across 181 campuses.

Brian Schultz, CMS’s chief operations officer, said 930 buses are rolling out Monday morning, covering thousands of routes.

The district has 45 bus driver vacancies, as well as 30 drivers in the pipeline, according to Schultz.

CMS leaders said the district will serve about 100,000 meals daily and it will continue providing free breakfast every day.

If a student attends a school with community eligibility provision, they will continue to receive free meals, according to staff. Other students need to apply.

District officials said there are currently 100 vacancies in the nutrition department and the district has 35 new hires in the pipeline.

School leaders want parents to know they're doing their part to keep schools safe.

When it comes to school safety, CMS installed Evolv body scanners in 21 high schools this spring and placed multiple in schools that have more than one entrance.

Some of those schools include Hopewell, Mallard Creek, Garinger, Harding University, West Charlotte, North Mecklenburg, and Julius Chambers High School.

In addition, CMS staff are closely monitoring surveillance cameras inside and outside of schools. They’re also reminding students to use the anonymous reporting system “Say Something” to report weapons, bullying, and other violence. All schools have locked entrances and visitors are required to scan their ID to get past the main entrance.

CMS is also adding fencing to different school properties.

“When you put all of these things together- the fencing, for the cameras, the scanners [which are] the weapon detection systems, when you put all of those things together and that makes a more complete approach to safety,” said Chief Operating Officer Brian Schultz.

The district will release the 2021-2022 state test scores on September 1. Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh says this should not be a moment of “gloom” but rather examining different standards and ways to help students.

CMS is also placing more teachers in 10 of the district’s 40 plus low-performing schools.

WBTV will have full coverage of those scores on Thursday. September 1.