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Forsyth County Schools nears 1,000 active COVID-19 cases as pandemic surges
Poole's Mill Elementary School students wear face masks heading into the first day of school in August 2020. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Forsyth County Schools continued to see a rise in both student and staff COVID-19 cases this past week, reaching nearly 1,000 active cases at one time.

The number of cases in Forsyth’s schools reached its highest peak in the pandemic so far on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 987 — which is more than three times higher than what the school system saw at its peak after the winter holidays last year.

According to daily reports posted to the district’s website, active cases have fluctuated since then, rising or falling slightly. As of Friday morning, there were 857 active student cases and 110 staff cases, accounting for a total of 967.

Active cases are counted as each face-to-face student or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19. Cases are no longer considered active 10 days after an individual tested positive for the virus, which is the amount of time they are expected to quarantine at home.

The school system recently added a new section to its daily report to let community members know how many new cases are reported each day to give more context to these small changes in case counts.

For example, the number of active cases went down from 983 to 967 between Thursday and Friday morning, but the school system also reported that there were 165 new cases in that same time frame.

These cases are reported out of a population of more than 55,600 face-to-face students and staff members.

FCS officially started its Keep Forsyth Safe COVID-19 prevention campaign on Monday, Aug. 23, leading to school announcements, social media posts and more to help encourage students and families to wear face masks and practice COVID-19 guidelines both on and off campus.

School leaders and teachers continue to remind students to wash their hands frequently, keep their space clean, stay distanced from others when they can and cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing.

While many parents have recently called on the district to mandate face masks for students and staff, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden and his team have stuck by the decision to give families a choice in whether or not they feel comfortable sending their child to campus with a face mask.

They have also kept to the decision, announced at the beginning of the school year, to give individuals exposed to COVID-19 at their school the choice to quarantine or return to campus.

FCS later published an exposure and quarantine guide for parents and guardians on its website to explain further details on what to do if a child tests positive or is exposed to COVID-19 in any way.

Through contact tracing, schools are sending notifications to parents if their child is directly exposed to COVID-19, meaning they have come within six feet for 15 minutes of someone who has tested positive.

From there, a parent can choose to continue sending the child to school, but they must closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

On the other hand, parents also have the choice to keep their child at home to self-quarantine for up to two weeks. If choosing this option, parents should contact the school to set up online instruction through ItsLearning.

According to the district’s website, if parents also choose to have a child tested for COVID-19, they must stay in quarantine until they receive the test result. Health officials recommend individuals wait until the fifth day after the latest exposure to get tested.

If a child tests positive, they are required to quarantine at home for at least 10 days. Kids are allowed to return to campus on the eleventh day if they have gone without any symptoms for the last 24 hours without the help of medications.

Students are also required to quarantine if anyone in their household tests positive for COVID-19.

In this case, parents can choose to get their child tested for the virus five days after the last exposure. If the test comes back negative and the student doesn’t display any symptoms, they can return to campus. Otherwise, they must quarantine at home for at least 10 days.

Students are not required to quarantine after a direct exposure if they have had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 90 days or if they are fully vaccinated. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was administered.

Regardless of the situation or vaccination status, students are required to quarantine at home if they develop any one symptom of COVID-19.

Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or a new loss of taste or smell.

For more information, visit the district’s website at

More from FCS’ Friday report:

●     Of the more than 850 active student cases reported Friday, 357 were among elementary school students, 272 were middle and 228 were high school;

●     Those who are currently COVID-19 positive make up 1.75% of the student population and 1.91% of the staff population;

●     The schools with the highest number of student cases include Lakeside Middle, 52; North Forsyth Middle, 52; and Forsyth Central High, 44.