DAVIDSON COUNTY — The Davidson County Board of Education reversed itself a week into the new academic year and enacted a policy requiring masks in schools during a raucous meeting Monday night in which deputies ejected some opponents of the new policy for disrupting the proceedings.
The school board changed course because of a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and close contacts since the 2021-22 academic year began a week ago. Through Monday, 94 students had tested positive and another 674 were identified as having close contacts with someone infected.
In addition, 31 staff members were confirmed as of Monday to be infected, the school board was told. In some schools, principals and assistant principals were having to fill in in classrooms because teachers are sick or are self-isolating because of close contact exposure.
Despite the numbers, many parents and Davidson County residents peppered the school board with unfavorable comments, saying that whether children wear masks in classrooms and common areas should remain at the discretion of parents.
The board voted 5-0 to reverse the optional mask policy. The mandatory mask policy will be reviewed in four weeks.
At a previous meeting earlier this month, the board voted unanimously to make masks optional. At the time, public health professionals warned it could hasten the spread of COVID-19 in Davidson County Schools.
The other two smaller school districts in the county — Thomasville City Schools and Lexington City Schools — started the new academic year recently with mask requirements. So did Guilford County Schools, which began the 2021-22 academic year on Monday.
The Randolph County Board of Education left masks optional for Randolph County Schools, which started the new academic year on Monday.
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HIGH POINT — The theft of catalytic converters from two Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club buses caused extra anxiety for students after their first day back to school on Monday.
The students already were worried about learning loss and about catching COVID-19 because they know more young people are getting sick in the current wave of the pandemic, said Amy Hudson, executive director of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.
“They have so many things on their plates, they should not have been sitting in school waiting to see if somebody was going to pick them up,” Hudson said. “The last thing they need is to be left sitting at school in the afternoon as their after-school enrichment programs struggle to get transportation to them because of something like this. It’s heartbreaking.”
As bus drivers did their inspections Monday to prepare for the first day of afterschool pickups, they quickly discovered that two of their buses wouldn’t run correctly due to their catalytic converters having been stolen yet again. In mid-July, two buses and one passenger van owned by The Salvation Army were damaged in a wave of catalytic converter thefts occurring across the country, including the High Point area.
“It’s a very disturbing noise when you crank it,” Hudson said. “It sounds like it’s exploding. Our driver called us immediately.”
The buses had been parked at a different building than in July to protect them. High Point police are reviewing surveillance footage from cameras facing the Salvation Army’s main office at 301 W. Green Drive.
Police continue to see an increase in catalytic convertor thefts because of the resale value of the precious metals rhodium, platinum and palladium within the device, Capt. Matt Truitt of the High Point Police Department said. A catalytic converter can draw up to $500, depending on the type and size.
“Unfortunately, the criminals don’t care if it’s a factory (new) one or an aftermarket one,” Truitt said. “They have their tools, most of which are battery-powered that they wrap in duct tape to keep them quiet while they’re cutting. They can knock out two or three catalytic converters in less than 10 minutes as long as they can get underneath the vehicle and not get interrupted.”
A bicyclist apparently disrupted a man who was seen under at least two vehicles on the lot at Five Points Motors at Greensboro Road around 5:30 a.m. Monday.
Thefts of catalytic converters are included in the rising numbers of larceny from automobiles. That total has reached 573 cases for the year as of midnight Sunday, Truitt said.
“That’s up 11% from 518 last year at this time,” Truitt said. “Unfortunately, what we’re seeing happening is people are still not locking their vehicles.”
The Salvation Army estimates it will cost around $8,000 to replace the two most-recently stolen parts, increasing the total repair costs due to catalytic converter thefts this year to almost $16,000.
That’s an unexpected expense for The Salvation Army, which experiences a drop in donations every summer, said Captain Lars-Otto and Ingrid Ljungholm, commanding officers of The Salvation Army of High Point.
“We need our community’s support more than ever so we can continue helping our neighbors in need,” Ljungholm said.
In addition to replacing the stolen parts, The Salvation Army is considering the costs of additional security cameras, exterior lighting and an estimated $10,000 fence to secure the area. The nonprofit already is dealing with costs to repair extensive damage to its building at 121 SW Cloverleaf Place after an EF-1 tornado ripped through south High Point on March 18. The tornado damaged the building’s roof and heating and air systems, as well as its sports fields.
“Donations are down across the board for everybody because of COVID with people hanging onto their money and not being able to work,” Hudson said. “We’re a nonprofit that relies heavily on that just to perform our daily routines. Now, we have money going out that we didn’t anticipate and we need to spend more just to keep it from happening again. It’s really frustrating. It’s sickening. The biggest thing is we need funds. Any amount helps. It’s an expensive undertaking to get back to where we were.”
To help The Salvation Army recover repair costs, visit tsahighpoint.org to make a donation.
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HIGH POINT — This is it, High Point, your last chance to dance and prance in pristine white pants.
Last Chance For White Pants, an annual fundraiser benefiting the Community Clinic of High Point, returns this weekend after being canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The popular event will be held Friday at the String & Splinter Club, 305 W. High Ave. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with dinner and live music beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner will be a Calabash-style buffet, and music will be provided by The Collegiates, a local beach band that was popular in the late 1960s and reunited several years ago.
Attire is casual, although white pants are obviously recommended for embracing the spirit of the evening. The event will be held outdoors, with masks and hand sanitizer available, and will follow the String & Splinter’s safety protocols for COVID-19. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
Tickets are $50 apiece, which includes dinner, music and a $20 tax-deductible donation to the Community Clinic. Kids 12 and younger get in free.
“Approximately 2,500 members of our community rely on the Community Clinic of High Point for health care, and the funds raised at this event help ensure that care remains available to them,” said Molly Jordan, executive director of the Community Clinic.
The clinic, which opened in 1993, provides primary and specialty medical care, prescription medications, lab services, behavioral health services and patient education to High Point’s most vulnerable residents, Jordan said.
“Through our partnership with United Way of Greater High Point and collaboration with local community organizations, the Community Clinic of High Point is able to provide high-quality, compassionate and, in many cases, lifesaving health-care services to those members of our community who need it the most,” she said.
“The clinic strives to help patients maintain their health and manage their chronic conditions to enable them to remain healthy and productive. The clinic is dedicated to improving the well-being of High Point and its neighboring communities. Together, we can continue providing hope and health to all.”
For tickets or further information, call 336-882-8191 or 336-841-7154, or email email@example.com.
Organizers say the event will be held rain or shine.
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HIGH POINT — The city will rename the western segment of Montlieu Avenue as Qubein Avenue.
The change was approved Tuesday by the Planning and Zoning Commission at the request of the City Council, which applied to have the street renamed in honor of High Point University President Nido Qubein.
The new name will be affixed to the stretch of Montlieu Avenue from N. Centennial Street to N. Main Street, which traverses about seven-tenths of a mile from the HPU campus to the outskirts of downtown.
The renaming will not affect the existing eastern segment of Montlieu Avenue from E. Lexington Avenue to University Parkway.
The commission didn’t set an exact date for when the change will take effect, other than to declare that it won’t be before Jan. 1, 2022. Under the city’s ordinance, the effective date must be within one year.
The board approved the change by a vote of 6-1, with Commissioner Alex Moore opposed. Commissioners Mark Morgan and Mark Walsh were absent from the meeting.
The commission opted against the council’s request to extend the renaming to a one-block portion of Sunset Avenue, which would have necessitated using east and west prefixes with the new name. Instead, the new name will be Qubein Avenue with no directional prefixes.
Supporters of the change told commissioners Qubein deserves to have a street named for him because of his leadership of HPU and his work on behalf of the city as a whole.
The segment of Montlieu Avenue that will bear his name has been in the city’s long-range plans eventually to connect more directly with Truist Point stadium and other downtown-area projects for which he led fundraising efforts and made financial contributions.
A total of 86 parcels have their address on this street, including the Nido & Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum, which is under construction at 200 Montlieu Ave.
“As a lifelong resident of High Point, no one has positively impacted this city as Dr. Nido Qubein has,” said Guilford County Commissioner Carlvena Foster. “He has built a university that invites and includes city residents in programs and activities, not to mention the economic impact it has on this city. What he does is unmatched and immeasurable.”
About seven people spoke against the name change, citing things like the city’s 2015 closure of another portion of Montlieu Avenue to accommodate HPU’s campus expansion.
The impacted property owners will be required to change their street name, but not their address numbers.
“Doing this is going to be a great inconvenience,” said Michael Fulk, a longtime resident of one of the blocks that will be renamed.
Others like Mike Armentrout said it pained him to contemplate the loss of the Montlieu name, which has been attached to his family’s property for five generations. He argued that the renaming was unnecessary and would constitute what he described as another example of encroachment into his neighborhood.
In the end, the commission agreed with city planners’ recommendation that the name change is warranted on several grounds and will enhance public safety by eliminating two nonconnected streets from having the same name.
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