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Forsyth County Schools report highest number of COVID-19 cases since pandemic began
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 published its first daily COVID-19 public report to its website Monday, Aug. 16, showing the highest number of cases among face-to-face students and staff since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

The report states, as of Monday morning, there were 437 active COVID-19 cases — with 366 being student cases and 71 staff.

Last school year, the pandemic reached its peak following the winter holidays at the beginning of students’ second semester. During that first week back to school, FCS reported a total of 319 active cases in the system, a difference of more than 100 compared to reported cases now.

While cases have increased, schools have also seen a greater number of students and staff on their campuses this year.

During the second semester of the 2020-21 year, there were a combined 43,532 face-to-face students and staff members. This year, that population has risen to 55,626 — a difference of more than 12,000.

The cases reported Monday have also jumped significantly over the weekend. According to the weekly report published to the district’s website on Friday, Aug. 13, there were 274 active student and staff cases at the end of the week. Now, that number has grown by 163 cases.

Medical experts have pointed to the more contagious Delta variant as a cause of the rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases seen across the nation in recent weeks.

As cases continue to rise, organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged residents to wash their hands and stay clean, stay socially distant and wear a face mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Since the beginning of the month, FCS has added several mitigation strategies to help combat the virus and new variant, which now makes up about 90% of current COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Most recently, the district announced it is beginning daily public COVID-19 reports similar to those they published last year. These reports can be found on the district’s website, In the same announcement, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden said they would begin contact tracing again.

This means parents and guardians will receive a notification when their child has, for at least 15 minutes, come within six feet of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Once parents receive a notification that their child has been exposed to COVID-19, they have the option to either continue sending their child to school or keeping them home to self-quarantine and learn through the district’s online platform, ItsLearning.

Students who have tested positive or are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are required to quarantine at home.

Other added mitigation strategies were aimed at limiting large groups on campuses, leaving room for social distancing and switching back to virtual events. The district has not made any requirements regarding face masks for the 2021-22 year.

More information from Monday’s report:

●     Of the 366 active student COVID-19 cases reported Monday morning, 168 cases were elementary students, 88 were middle school students, and 110 were high school students.

●     Of the 71 active staff cases, 29 were elementary staff, 15 were middle school staff, 14 were high school staff and 13 were district staff.

●     There are nearly 50,000 total face-to-face enrolled students, and the current cases make up about 0.73% of the student population.

●     There are more than 5,700 FCS employees, and current cases make up about 1.23% of the staff population.

●     Case numbers are highest among students at North Forsyth High School, 33 cases; East Forsyth High School, 22; and DeSana Middle School, 20.