It may be back to school for K-5 students in NC; more COVID cases in the area

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Another small step towards normal in the North Carolina Schools was announced Thursday as the steady climb of coronavirus cases continued in Columbus and Horry counties.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Full in-class learning for K-5 in NC approved
  • Columbus records 33 new COVID cases since Monday
  • New infections ebb and flow in Horry

Full in-class learning for K-5 in NC approved

     Improving COVID-19 trends across North Carolina have put the state “in a position to take another critical step forward” by allowing public schools to transition to full-time on-campus classes for Kindergarten through the fifth grade, Gov. Roy Cooper said during a news briefing Thursday.

     “We are able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers,” Gov. Cooper said. “North Carolinians are doing the hard work to improve our numbers and trends. Many people are wearing masks, keeping social distance and being careful to protect others as well as themselves.

     “We have shown that listening to the science works. And I’m proud of our resolve.”

     School districts may continue to operate under the state’s Plan B or C, either complete distance learning or a hybrid plan, but under the new order may return to full-time on-campus classes with no restrictions on class sizes, Gov. Cooper said.

     Mask wearing will be required for all students, faculty and staff on campus, and on school buses, Gov. Cooper and state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said. And while there may be more students in those classes, school leaders are encouraged to maintain social distancing guidelines whenever possible.

     “It’s great news today that we are a step closer to providing the option of in-person learning to families who want their children to return to school,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. “While the Governor, the State Board of Education, and I have our differences, I join with them today to encourage local school board members to take advantage of this change and open all schools safely.”

     Both the governor and Dr. Cohen said North Carolinians who have done their part to help reduce COVID-19 spread made the decision possible.

     “Our trends show that we are on the right track,” Dr. Cohen said. “It’s up to all of us to protect our progress. Our individual actions like those 3 Ws will help keep our school doors open.”

     Dr. Cohen said that as schools have opened, the current science shows that younger children are less likely to become infected, have symptoms, experience severe disease or spread the virus.

     School district leaders will decide if moving to Plan A is right locally, and if they do implementation will take time as facilities are prepared and school bus transportation plans are updated, the governor said.

Columbus records 33 new COVID cases since Monday

     Another 33 Columbus County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since Monday, with no new associated deaths, the Columbus County Health Department reported Thursday.

     That brings the pandemic totals for the county to 1,304 cases, with 53 associated deaths.

     Eight of the new cases were reported after Monday’s health department news release, eleven Tuesday, twelve Wednesday, and two today (Thursday,” the news release said.

     “There have been 1,063 COVID-19 recoveries in Columbus County,” the health department reported.

     Eight county residents are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, five more than the health department reported Monday.

     Zip Code data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services showed the Tabor City area with two new cases since Monday, Chadbourn with seven, Whiteville with thirteen.

     North Carolina recorded 1,552 new COVID infections and 31 new related deaths Thursday, pandemic totals now at 189,576 and 3,180 respectively. Statewide 894 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, that number down by 24 from Wednesday.

New infections ebb and flow in Horry

     With an uneven pace of newly confirmed COVID-19 infections among Horry County residents the pandemic total has reached 9,817, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday, an increase of 78 since Monday.

     Coronavirus related deaths in Horry have reached 183, the DHEC data shows, though Wednesday’s count showed one more. That change typically indicates investigation has determined that a death involved a resident of different county.

     A single new death was confirmed Tuesday, that involving an elderly Horry resident, the DHEC data showed.

     Since Monday Horry recorded 41 newly confirmed cases Tuesday, 13 on Wednesday, 24 today (Thursday).

     Zip Code data showed the Loris area with two newly confirmed cases Wednesday, three today, while Green Sea showed one new case Wednesday.

     Pandemic totals have reached 572 cases for the Loris area, 41 for Green Sea, the DHEC data showed.

     South Carolina recorded 740 new COVID infections and 27 new related deaths Thursday, those pandemic totals now 132,565 and 2,992 respectively. Statewide 733 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, that number down by 51 from Wednesday.

Updates

     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.