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Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden addresses safety concerns in a letter to parents as COVID-19 cases continue to rise within schools

Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden sent a letter to parents on Friday, Nov. 6, noting for the second time in the past month that the school community has not been as careful when it comes to COVID-19 safety measures, leading to a further rise in cases among students and staff.

In his letter, Bearden expresses a concern that, if students do not go back to following safety measures, more schools in the district could be forced to temporarily close. Lambert High School became the first school that the district had to close for two weeks starting on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

During that same week, Oct. 26-30, FCS reported 45 active COVID-19 cases among the now 41,296 face-to-face students and staff, the highest number of cases the district has seen in one week so far. The district also reported that 2.4% of the population had been quarantined that week, which would be approximately 991 students and staff.

As of Thursday, Oct. 5, the school district had reported another 41 active cases this week.

Bearden outlined in his letter two large areas of concern for the district right now — the activities that students are participating in after school hours and on weekends and the lack of students wearing masks in schools district-wide.

“FCS has no control over what happens outside of school, but parents/guardians do,” Bearden wrote in the letter.

Bearden referred to students in schools who have attended gatherings or parties outside of school “where social distancing and mask wearing are not practiced.” He said that the students who have contracted the virus from these non-school related events have come to school and forced many other students who have not attended outside gatherings into virtual learning as they have to quarantine at home.

“The increase in quarantined students has added stress to our face-to-face teachers who are now having to teach both in school and online to ensure all students are being educated,” Bearden wrote. “We request that you please review what your children are doing after school hours and on weekends.”

Bearden first noted a decline in the number of students wearing masks in school in a letter he sent to parents on Friday, Oct. 23, and he reiterated the same concern in this most recent letter. He said that the situation at Lambert High School served as a “wake-up call” for community members, but he said that parents and students need to remember the situation as they continue on in the semester.

“Health experts continue to repeatedly remind us that practicing social distancing and wearing a mask are our best defenses in mitigating the spread of COVID-19,” Bearden wrote. “Please have family conversations around the importance of these two preventive safety measures and help us impress upon our students the importance of remaining vigilant for their health and the health of others.

“I am asking that we all continue to work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community and schools, which will allow us to keep our schools open for face-to-face instruction for the next two weeks and when we return from Thanksgiving break.”