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Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education clarifies standards for reopening and announces COVID-19 special committee meeting

As a part of the WS/FCS Board of Education’s regularly scheduled work session on Tuesday, Oct. 14, the board clarified the guidelines that the district will use to determine reopening. A board majority voted to refine the decision made on Oct. 1, which called for following positivity rates gathered by the Forsyth County Department of Public Health over a 10-day period.

The approved guidelines align reopening with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Indicators for Safer School Opening. Those indicators include the number of new cases per 100,000 persons within the last 14 days, otherwise known as the Incidence Rate and the percentage of lab tests that are positive during the last 14 days, or the Percent Positive.

The CDC core indicators also require schools to follow five key strategies for opening safely. Those include:

  • consistent and correct use of masks
  • social distancing to the largest extent possible
  • hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • cleaning and disinfection
  • contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department.

District reopening teams have constant conversation with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, their doctors and leadership team. They give good guidance and have highly recommended using these metrics as guidance for deciding about school reopening.

Under this guidance, should Forsyth County enter the range that the CDC calls the higher or highest risk, then the Board of Education Special COVID-19 Committee will revisit a decision about in-person learning.

District leaders will post the Incidence Rate and the Percent Positive rates on the “Our Safe Return” page of the district website. The WS/FCS COVID-19 Special Committee will meet every two weeks, before each phase of student return according to the reopening plan, to evaluate the metrics and determine if reopening can continue. Any changes to the reopening plan/dates would be communicated to families as soon as possible.

Also, before the majority of elementary students return on Nov. 2, the district will post a dashboard outlining reported COVID-19 cases among staff and students.  At this point, the dates for reopening remain the same as originally approved.

The WS/FCS COVID-19 Special Committee of the WS/FCS Board of Education will meet virtually Tuesday, Oct. 20. The committee will meet via Microsoft Teams at 4 p.m. The agenda will be posted later this week. It can be found under the Meetings tab at the top of the Board of Education webpage or via this link.

The public is invited to watch the meeting via WS/FCS Educational TV Cable 2 (Spectrum customers) or it can be watched live on the Cable 2 website found via this link.