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'We have not given up hope' GCS grades K-2 return to in person learning delayed as coronavirus cases climb

Higher positivity rates, increasing cases and more hospitalizations are slowing the return to the classroom but Dr. Sharon Contreras is still optimistic.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Guilford County Schools postponed their reentry plan after the health department identified increases in coronavirus data in the county.

Pre k-2 were supposed to return for in person learning Tuesday.

Iulia Vann, director of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services said higher positivity rates, increasing cases and more hospitalizations were enough to recommend the delay.

"We are seeing continuous community transmission and we are seeing higher risk for transmission in the schools," Vann said in a press conference outside the Guilford County Schools Administrative Building Monday.

The district wanted to see a five percent or lower positivity rate before returning students to the classroom. Instead, Guilford County is seeing an average of six-point-five percent positivity.

The highest daily spike in the county during the last 14 days was eleven percent.

Health experts said these are some of the highest metrics we've seen during the pandemic.

"The numbers aren't good. We are at a record high of hospitalizations at least within Cone Health facilities which is concerning," Cone Health Chief Physician Dr. Bruce Swords said.

The health department and GCS want to see 14 days with a downward trend before students return.

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras is optimistic that change will come but she fears learning loss if students can't return safely, soon.

"To the parents and the students, I want you to know we have not given up hope. We are going to do everything in our power to get you back in school," Contreras said.

The earliest pre k-2 students could return to school would be Monday, October 26.

GCS expects to make a decision on Friday.

Students who had already been going back voluntarily can continue to do so but other k-2 students will have to wait.

Contreras said practicing the 3 W's--wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart and washing your hands--could help get things back on track.

"We need everyone's help if we want our children back in schools," Contreras said.

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