How the smallest school district in NC is navigating the pandemic ahead of the holidays

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ENGELHARD, N.C. (WNCT) — COVID-19 cases are reportedly rising across states all over the nation. Now, school districts are working to make sure they stay on top of any possible outbreaks.

Hyde County School officials are now sharing what they have planned to keep their tight-knit community safe. With COVID cases rising ahead of the holidays, school officials want it to be known that they aren’t losing steam.

“We have seen a rise in cases in Hyde County, I think we are in the mid-teens right now,” Hyde County Schools Superintendent Stephen Basnight.

With COVID cases expected to see a rise in number, school officials are staying on top of exposures. Basnight said with the changing nature of cases counts, it’s something they are continually monitoring.

“I’m going to be honest with you, we are sort of taking this day by day, month by month as far as where we are and what our cases look like,” said Basnight.

Hyde County is home to the smallest school district in the state. Basnight said they take the same steps and precautions as any other school district.

“The smallest district in the state is a double-edged sword, and I tell people all the time that just because we are the smallest district, I have to fill out the same paperwork that Charlotte-Mecklenburg fills out, so it’s not like we get a break on what we are required to do by the state,” Basnight said.

With travel increasing around holiday seasons, the school district actually doesn’t have too much to worry about in terms of preparation Basnight said.

“We have people going in and out of the county all the time and so travel is really part of our normal day to day and it would be extremely difficult to limit travel in and out of Hyde,” said Basnight.

As far as communicating with health officials, well, he says he’s got that down pat.

“Our health director in Hyde County and I talk constantly,” said Basnight. “She keeps me up to date on where we are and I let her know what’s going on, and they are the ones that confirm any positives or quarantines for us so there is a constant stream of communication between us and our health department which has made it really easy to make decisions based on that data.”

Basnight said the good news is none of the reported cases in the county are tied to any mass spreads inside of the schools. However, there are some struggles such as staffing. With Ocracoke being as far from the mainland, he says the school’s principal is having to serve as the nurse as well.

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