Buncombe County Schools released data on Thursday morning showing that there have been 162 new positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff between the dates of September 1 and September 8, 2021.
The school with the largest number of new cases was Enka High School, with 21. Enka High is the third-largest high school in Buncombe County, with just over 1,000 students.
Previously, on September 2, BCS Superintendent Tony Baldwin said that there had been 157 new cases - 136 among students and 21 among staff - between August 23rd and September 1st, 2021. That makes for a total of 319 new positive cases reported since the beginning of the school year.
Transparency Policy Remains Unclear
Buncombe County Schools will not be providing a COVID-19 case dashboard for this school year. Instead, they will release the number of new positive cases (among both students and staff) in a weekly announcement on a per-school basis.
See an index of the school update pages here:
On each of the weekly update pages, BCS includes the following statement: "Any staff or students identified as close contacts have been notified and advised of next steps. If you did not receive a call there is no need to worry; you are not a close contact."
But a teacher in the county, who spoke to The Asheville Free Press on the condition of anonymity, is concerned about the lack of transparency around potential contact. They feel that the "close contact" designation is too narrow and doesn't include all the times a student is at risk of contracting COVID-19.
"I wasn't even told directly I had a positive case in my room," they said. "This year, it all feels very 'lawyer.'"
When asking their administrators to clarify the exposure criteria and notification methods, the answers were vague, and they were told to talk to HR. They've mostly received information about students' COVID status from parents via text message.
The teacher is also a parent to a student who attends a different school in the county. When calling and requesting information as a parent, they were told that the school would send a letter in the mail to inform parents of an exposure they considered lower-risk, such as being in class with a student who has tested positive. The teacher feels that this method is intentionally slow and intended to cover the school's legal bases while restricting the flow of information.
We reached out to April Baur of MAHEC, who is listed as the contact for questions, to clarify the BCS transparency policy. Baur has not responded as of publication.
Interactive Data Visualization by Elliot Patterson
We are 100% funded by community members like you. If you like what you just read, help us make more like it by becoming a patron.Become a Patron!