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All North Wilkes High School students will be engaged in remote learning all this week (ending Friday, Oct. 2) “due to concerns related to the coronavirus,” stated an announcement on the Wilkes County Schools website Tuesday afternoon.

North Wilkes High had 19 positive COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday afternoon, said Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard.

All students at North Wilkes High were switched to remote learning this past Thursday and Friday after six students and one teacher at the school tested positive last week. This earlier shift to remote learning was announced Wednesday afternoon of last week.

Meal service will be provided at the school from noon to 12:30 p.m. daily through the car line this week, according to the announcement posted Tuesday afternoon. “Thank you for understanding as we take precautions to ensure the safety of our students, staff and community,” it said.

Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard said the seven people at North Wilkes who tested positive this past week were in the same class. She said not all of the additional 12 people who tested positive were in the same class as the first seven.

According to Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd, people had tested positive at nine of the 22 Wilkes schools by this past Thursday. Those nine schools were North Wilkes, Wilkes Central and Wilkes Early College high schools; Central Wilkes Middle School; and Mulberry, Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro, Millers Creek and Boomer-Ferguson elementary schools.

Byrd said some of these cases were students engaged in remote learning and not coming on a school campus, while others didn’t involve close contacts or may have been out of school for days prior to their positive tests. All individuals directly impacted by these confirmed cases have been contacted, he said.

Tuesday morning, Byrd said COVID-19 cases have also been confirmed at West Wilkes High School and at North Wilkes and West Wilkes middle schools.

Willard said North Wilkes High is the only Wilkes school with a COVID-19 cluster, which refers to at least five apparently related cases with illness onsets or initial positive test results within the same 14-day period.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 15 schools statewide had COVID-19 clusters by Tuesday. These included North Wilkes High School and were listed at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/outbreaks-and-clusters.

According to the DHHS website, two long-term care congregate living facilities had COVID-19 cases by Tuesday. These included Westwood Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Wilkesboro with 180 cases (76 residents and 52 staff members) and 16 deaths.

Accordius Health at Wilkesboro was listed with two cases.

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