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With students, staff out of classrooms, COVID cases drop sharply in Winston-Salem/Forsyth district

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The number of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools students with COVID-19 last week plummeted nearly 61% compared with the previous week.

According to the weekly case count, updated each Monday, there were 399 students who tested positive for COVID during the week ending Jan. 21, compared with 1,016 the previous week.

In addition to the 399 students who tested positive, 160 staff members became infected for a total case count of 599.

For the week ending Jan. 14, there were 189 staff members who tested positive for a total of 1,205 cases, a record high.

The case count reflects numbers gathered from the school district’s contact tracing team and families who self-report.

No students or staff members were in school buildings last week because of the Martin Luther King Jr., holiday, bad weather and a previously scheduled teacher work day. Most athletic and extracurricular events were postponed as well.

Students returned to the classroom on Monday.

Joshua Swift, the director of the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, said last week that the lack of student gatherings could help slow the spread of COVID, which has been rampant all over the country.

“I know for myself and my family, we’ve been staying put because you couldn’t get out. It could possibly help,” Swift said last week.

The drop in cases could also be due to a dip in the number of tests administered during the recent spate of bad weather.

Wiley Middle School reported 30 cases among students and six among staff members. The schools with the highest case counts among students were the Downtown School with 19; Lewisville and Kimmel Farm elementary schools each with 15; and Kernersville and Morgan elementary schools each with 14.

Konnoak and Morgan also each reported six infected staff members.

The school district has had an indoor mask mandate since the start of the school year. The school board will vote again on its masking policy on Feb. 8. The state requires school boards to vote each month on their masking policies.

The school system ha begun a testing program at 19 schools, with more expected to come on board soon.

The health department has contracted with a staffing agency to provide 60 workers to test at schools. So far, the staffing agency has been able to fill 20 of those slots. Volunteers and COVID coordinators at some schools will administer the tests.

The schools in the first round of the testing program are:

Elementary: Jefferson, Kernersville, Kimberley Park, Lewisville, Mineral Springs, Piney Grove, Rural Hall, Vienna, Walkertown, Whitaker.

Middle: Clemmons, Hanes.

High: Carter, Carver, North Forsyth, Reynolds.

Others: The Downtown School; Main Street Academy, Special Children’s School.

336-727-7420

@lisaodonnellWSJ

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