GUILFORD COUNTY — For the third time this month leaders of Guilford County Schools have scuttled a plan to return the youngest students in the school district to in-person classroom instruction.
The school system announced Friday afternoon that it won’t start in-person instruction for pre-kindergarten through second-graders next week because of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. The same concerns set back two previous efforts this month to return to in-person instruction for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic seven months ago.
The Guilford County Board of Education approved a plan last month to gradually bring back students starting in October if COVID-19 public health metrics trended in the right direction. But they haven’t — the Guilford County Division of Public Health reported that on Wednesday the county posted two records since the beginning of the pandemic: a total of 255 new cases of COVID-19, and total of 99 people hospitalized in Guilford County with COVID-19, both the highest numbers to date.
The trends compelled school leaders to stick with remote learning, said Deena Hayes, chairwoman of the Guilford County Board of Education
“The superintendent was directed by the school board to meet regularly with public health officials to review the data, discuss COVID-19 research and consider the best ways to help prevent spread of COVID-19 in schools,” Hayes said. “Thus far, the health metrics approved by the Board of Education have not been met.”
The school board will review the latest data and the community health metrics they put in place to drive school reopening decisions at its next meeting Nov. 10. Superintendent Sharon Contreras plans to ask school board members to make a decision about whether to continue trying to reopen schools prior to winter break or to wait until January.
“Our families need time to plan and make the appropriate arrangements for their children,” Contreras said.
Contreras said she also plans to recommend that the school board adjust its metrics to include the research on COVID-19 transmission in schools and consideration of the impact on students’ academic and social outcomes and emotional well-being.
“Our parents are sharing with us that they are deeply concerned about their children’s mental health,” Contreras said. “We’re seeing this in the national research as well, which indicates that many students and their parents are struggling socially and emotionally after months of social isolation and pandemic-induced stress. We must balance the potential academic and social harm to students with the health concerns associated with COVID-19, especially as we learn more about COVID-19 transmission rates in schools.”
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HIGH POINT — A High Point man has been charged in the shooting death of another man in an east High Point parking lot Thursday night.
High Point Police Department officers went to 2700 E. Lexington Ave., at the intersection with Montlieu Avenue, about 8 p.m. after a report of a shooting, and they found Joseph Christopher Crawford, 26, of High Point dead in the parking lot, police said.
Detectives worked through the night and identified a suspect, Ernest Dunlap Jr., 52, who was found at his home on Meadowbrook Avenue. He was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, police said. He was being held in the High Point jail with no bond allowed.
Police did not release any other information about the shooting, including any reason behind it.
Anyone with information related to this investigation can Detective C. Wade at 336-887-7841 or Crime Stoppers of High Point at 336-889-4000 or download the P3 mobile app for IOS or Android.
HIGH POINT — An accidental fire that started Thursday night in a laundry room at the Astor Dowdy public housing complex downtown injured five people and left 35 other residents temporarily displaced.
The fire was reported at midnight Thursday in the building along E. Green Drive near the Guilford County Courthouse. The electrical fire on the fourth floor in the laundry room was contained by the sprinkler system, High Point Fire Department Battalion Chief Perry Hall said.
Smoke spread through the fourth and fifth floors, and water from the sprinklers seeped into parts of the first through fourth floors, Hall told The High Point Enterprise.
Three people were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not considered to be life-threatening, and two others were treated at the scene, he said.
The 35 people who were displaced were temporarily moved to local hotels through help from the American Red Cross. Hall said Friday morning that it’s not clear when the residents will be able to return to Astor Dowdy.
Hall didn’t have a dollar estimate on damages.
The two-alarm fire involved 18 units from the fire department.
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