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Two COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at North Wilkes High School in Hays, said Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd on Monday.

“I am aware of two people at the school testing positive for COVID-19,” said Byrd.  “We are in communication with the (Wilkes) Health Department and additional cleaning has taken place at the school.”

He said school officials don’t plan to close North Wilkes High, but added that this could change if additional cases arise. “The parents of students directly impacted have been contacted.”

Byrd didn’t say if the people who tested positive were students, teachers, staff or if they were associated with North High in some other way. Byrd said.

Mulberry Elementary School on N.C. 18 North was closed Friday for additional cleaning as a result of a positive COVID-19 case, said Byrd that day, adding that it was the first Wilkes school closed due to the virus.

 “While every single (COVID-19) case will not require us to close an entire school, circumstances in this situation (at Mulberry) led us to believe that this was best in this instance,” said Byrd. A statement posted Thursday on Mulberry’s Facebook page said the school would be closed the next day as a “precaution… for additional deep cleaning of the building.”

The statement said parents of Mulberry Elementary students “directly impacted by this situation” were contacted. Friday was a remote learning day for all Mulberry students.

Monday of this week was already marked on the calendar as a remote learning and required teacher work day for all Wilkes schools.

Byrd said that if a school has a “cluster” of COVID-19 cases, defined as at least five in the same school within 14 days, all students, teachers and staff will be told and the school will have to close short-term and operate under Plan C for a period after reopening. Under Plan C, all students learn remotely instead of in-person in the school.

The Wilkes schools started the year on Aug. 17 with all students in Plan C, but switched to Plan B on Sept. 8. Plan B limits schools to operating at 50% of student capacity.

In the Wilkes School District’s version of Plan B, students in each school who didn’t opt for fulltime learning the first nine weeks of school were split into two groups. Both groups alternate between remote learning and in-person learning each day but never the same on the same day.


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