RALEIGH, NC — North Carolina health officials on Tuesday released a report showing 170 ongoing COVID-19 clusters in K-12 schools or child care settings.
While the state Department of Health and Human Services said it does not have data on the number of pupils quarantined statewide or the share of those forced to miss school without a remote learning option, districts without mask-wearing requirements are seeing substantially more spread of the virus and hours of lost learning among students.
Union County Public Schools, which voted down a proposal last month to require mask wearing in the state’s sixth-largest public school district, reported about one in 8 of the more than 41,000 students in the district were under quarantine, as of Friday. The more than 5,200 students were placed under quarantine after 337 pupils tested positive for the virus last week.
Meanwhile, the Wake County Public School System, where masks are mandatory and which is four times larger than Union County Public Schools, has less than a fourth the number of students quarantined. Data from the Wake County district shows less than 1,300 of its more than 161,000 pupils were quarantined last week.
In Durham County, where face coverings are also mandatory, the public school district with nearly 31,000 pupils learning in person reported 97 new cases among students last week.
The weekly report state health officials updated on Tuesday shows the Union Academy Charter School in Monroe has the worst cluster in North Carolina, with 111 positive cases, including 98 among children. This amounts to about one in 20 of the charter school’s students being infected. Charter Day School in Brunswick County has the next highest cluster of 81 infected children, followed distantly by Emereau Charter School in Bladen County with 31 infections among students.