There have been 72 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the Wayne County Public Schools system since mid-September.
Brogden Primary School is the latest casualty.
The Wayne County Health Department requested that administrators shutter the doors Sept. 29 when they learned eight individuals — seven teachers and one custodian — tested positive for the virus. The school remains closed until Oct. 20.
Students and staff have reverted to Plan C, which is full remote learning. BPS serves approximately 800 students in Pre-K through fourth grade and has about 65 people on staff.
“We were rushed,” said Tiffany Kornegay, president of the Wayne County Association of Educators. “I think WCPS wanted to be the first county to go back and be like the shining model because we had so many issues over the summer with finances, and they wanted to get over those issues to put the county back on track, try to fix its reputation.”
In doing so, schools have been neglected, she said — particularly BPS.
Staffers contacted Kornegay and complained that daily cleaning and sanitizing isn’t being handled properly. One staffer mentioned that custodians have used squirt bottles and garden sprayers to clean buildings instead of the large fogging machines purchased by the county.
Several bathrooms are also out of order.
“To find out that such a large elementary school that serves a large population has bathroom closures, then in a sense, your other bathrooms become higher volume, which could mean you have a higher caseload located in those areas,” Kornegay said.
“How well is the ventilation? That could have contributed to some degree.”
Kornegay contends that WCPS should have remained in Plan C.
The school system switched to Plan B in early September. Students receive in-person instruction, but work remotely when their group is not on campus.
A survivor of the virus with lingering symptoms, Kornegay felt every school employee should be tested. She added that schools such as Brogden Primary need additional sanitizing stations until its restroom issues are corrected.
“We should have been problem-solving [issues] before throwing our educators back into the buildings and before throwing our children back into the buildings,” Kornegay said. “This is not professional.”
In a released statement, WCPS officials said the closure will “allow time for the district to deep clean the building and for any staff or students who may have been potentially exposed to remain home to self monitor for systems.”
WCPS added that guidelines from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services are being followed.