Monday numbers: A closer look at the return to in-person instruction

By: - February 8, 2021 6:00 am

Teachers shouldn’t return to classrooms until they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the North Carolina Association of Educators said last week, as both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers urged school districts to reopen for in-person instruction, to prevent further learning loss and to address students’ social and emotional needs.  

State Sen. Deanna Ballard, a Republican from Watauga County, filed Senate Bill 37  requiring districts to provide in-person instruction. Families could still choose to continue remote learning under the proposal. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Cooper and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt held a press conference to nudge school districts to reopen five days per week to the fullest extent possible while following all public health protocols in the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit. 

The governor cited the much-discussed ABC Science Collaborative study that examined 11 North Carolina school districts during the first two months of school and found no cases of student-to-adult transmissions. However, that study was conducted before the recent virus variants emerged. 

Researchers from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill make up the Science Collaborative. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released reports showing that schools aren’t major spreaders of the coronavirus. 

Here’s a “by the numbers look” at K-12-related COVID-19 clusters and infections in North Carolina, as well as recent information on teacher vaccinations: 

139 – Total K-12 clusters since June 1 

82 — Number of clusters at public schools

57 — at private schools

1,189— Number of individual cases associated with school clusters

583 — Individual cases, public schools

606 — Individual cases, private schools

49 Number of currently active clusters

34 — at public schools

15 — at private schools

If exposed to someone with COVID-19:

85 – Percentage decrease in risk of infection if social distancing is observed

77Percentage decrease in risk of infection if wearing a mask

77 – Percentage decrease in risk of infection if contact is less than 15 minutes

67 – Percentage decrease in risk of infection if frequent handwashing takes place

24 + Washington, D.C.  Number of states where teachers have at least some access to COVID-19 vaccine because of their profession

26 (including North Carolina) Number of states where teachers are not eligible for the vaccine because of their profession

2  Among states where teachers remain ineligible, North Carolina registered in the second-highest category for infections per 100,000 people last week only Texas and South Carolina were in the top category

 Sources: The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; New York Times: “Where are teachers ineligible to be vaccinated?” – Feb. 4, 2021

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.