Staff member at T.S. Cooper Elementary School tests positive for COVID

Published 5:50 pm Thursday, January 14, 2021

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SUNBURY – One day following their return to the classroom, students and staff at one Gates County school are faced with readjusting their educational plans over the next several weeks.

On Wednesday (Jan. 13), a staff member at T.S. Cooper Elementary School in Sunbury tested positive for COVID-19. As a result of that positive test, four additional staff members have been quarantined.

Gates County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams said contact tracing efforts continue to determine if any other close contact/exposures have occurred.

“The staff member did have class time with students on Tuesday, January 12, but following the guidelines provided by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control], no student was a close contact,” Dr. Williams said in a memo sent out Thursday to all county educational administrators and staff. The parents/guardians of T.S. Cooper students were also notified.

“At this time, all individuals identified through contact tracing have been contacted and instructed to quarantine,” Dr. Williams added.

Currently, only Kindergarten and first grade students are on the T.S. Cooper campus during school days. Students in the remaining grades are scheduled to return to the classroom on Jan. 19, according to a plan developed earlier this month by the Gates County Board of Education.

The Superintendent’s memo said that face-to-face instruction will continue on Friday (Jan. 15).

“However, due to the lack of availability of staff to cover classes, we will return to remote/virtual instruction for all T.S. Cooper Elementary School students beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19,” Dr. Williams said. “We will remain on this schedule through Wednesday, Jan. 27 and students will return for face-to-face instruction on Thursday, Jan. 28. This change in schedule is for T.S. Cooper Elementary School only.

“Please know that we are making every effort to maintain a safe and healthy school environment,” Dr. Williams concluded.

Some students and staff of Gates County Public Schools returned to the classroom on Tuesday of this week as part of a plan unanimously approved by the county’s Board of Education during a special called meeting on Jan. 4.

That plan allowed for the second semester to begin with face-to-face instruction on Tuesdays through Fridays for elementary schools (Buckland, Gatesville and T.S. Cooper) on the following dates:

Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade on Tuesday, Jan. 12;

Second Grade and Third Grade on Tuesday, Jan. 19; and

Fourth Grade and Fifth Grade on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

At their meeting on Jan. 11, the school board revised their Jan. 4 plan and opted to bring back the second, third, fourth, and fifth grade students on Jan. 19. That plan still applies to students/staff at Buckland Elementary and Gatesville Elementary.

In-person instruction and services for students with disabilities resumed Jan. 12.

For those students whose parents chose to have their children to remain on a total remote learning plan, that type of instruction began Jan. 6.

The Board of Education also agreed to begin the second semester under Plan B (face-to-face and virtual) for the high school and middle school on Jan. 19. Those students will have face-to-face instruction two days per week with virtual/remote instruction two days per week. Students in grades 6 through 12 will be divided into two groups, Group A and Group B. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Group A will have face-to-face instruction at school while Group B will receive virtual/remote learning. Those two groups will switch places on Thursdays and Fridays.





About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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