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Watauga County Schools Reports Zero COVID-19 Cases in Students, Staff

Watauga County Schools Head Nurse Shelly Klutz administers a COVID-19 vaccine to WHS student Finley Hodges. WHS HOSA student Riley Alderson was one of a group of students helping to facilitate the clinic. 

For the first time since the school district began tracking last year, Watauga County Schools has reported zero positive cases of COVID-19 among its students and staff. The figures are compiled weekly by school nurses at each school and monitor positive cases in each group along with the number of tests given at schools. 

Since last August, nurses have administered 802 COVID-19 tests in schools.

From the onset of the pandemic, Watauga County Schools nurses have performed significant and detailed contact tracing of positive COVID-19 cases in schools in concert with AppHealthCare and local health officials. Since the beginning of the school year last August, nurses have reported a total of 112 COVID-19 cases among staff, and 251 in students.

Over the last several weeks, schools across Watauga County have played host to in-school vaccine clinics for students and their parents. Three total clinics at Watauga High School have inoculated 238 students, staff and parents.

When the Pfizer vaccine was approved for people 12 years of age and older, Watauga County Schools was able to extend it’s in-school clinics to K-8 schools. Over the next several days, the district will hold three additional K-8 clinics. So far, the first clinic at Valle Crucis saw more than 50 students and parents vaccinated.

Watauga County Schools faculty, staff and teachers were able to receive their first shot of the Moderna vaccine in late February. More than 90 percent of the school system’s eligible employees received their first dose at that time and are now fully inoculated. 

Superintendent Scott Elliott said he was proud to be able to report Watauga’s first week free of positive cases. 

“Reaching zero cases over a week is a significant and encouraging milestone. It’s the result of months of hard work and diligence from our students, teachers and staff in following health and safety guidelines, wearing masks and staying distant when possible,” Elliott said. “It’s also a measure of how effective vaccines are in preventing the spread of COVID-19. As more and more people who work or attend school in our buildings are vaccinated, we hope to continue to see these low numbers.”