RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – State leaders want to bring K-12 students back to classrooms in a safe way.
CBS 17 News took a closer look at a statement made by Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen, about public schools and their sensitivity to COVID-19 clusters.
REQUIREMENT: Speaking about the safety of in-person teaching with safety protocols in place, Cohen said “we have seen very few COVID-19 clusters in our public schools.”
FACTS: It may depend on what you compare it to and what you consider to be “very little”.
DHHS defines a cluster as five or more epidemiologically related cases within a 14 day period.
The department began publishing a bi-weekly list of schools and daycares that are experiencing active clusters in August, with the next update scheduled for Friday. CBS 17 News collected and tracked these lists for seven months.
There were 51 schools on the list released Tuesday, and 32 of them – over 60% – were public schools. A review of reports over the past month revealed a similar percentage.
But on the other hand, in North Carolina there are about 2,500 public schools for only about 750 private schools – a ratio of over 3 to 1.
From January 12 through Tuesday, a total of 81 schools reported clusters – 52 public, 29 private. This means that only about 2% of all public schools had clusters at this time, while the rate among private schools during this period was about twice as high, at 4%.
A CBS 17 News report in November revealed around this time that private schools were facing more and larger clusters of COVID-19 than their public counterparts.
The obvious explanation: Private schools have largely been running in-person classes since August, while many public schools started the year with online instruction before opening up to in-person learning later in the semester. .
Some public schools have yet to reopen during the spring semester. According to a North Carolina School Board Association database, 79 of the state’s 115 public school districts currently offer an in-person learning option. Wake County schools are expected to resume in-person learning next week.
CBS 17 Joedy mccreary has been tracking COVID-19 numbers since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to provide a clear overview of the current coronavirus situation and what it could look like in the future.