More than 20% of year-round, mask-optional Pender K-5 school quarantined; PCS calls emergency meeting

Pender County Schools Superintendent Steven Hill looks at his calendar as PCS Board of Education Chairman Don Hall speaks at a June board meeting. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Pender County Schools Superintendent Steven Hill looks at his calendar as PCS Board of Education Chairman Don Hall speaks at a June 2020 board meeting. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

PENDER COUNTY –– More than 20% of the Penderlea Elementary School population is currently in quarantine, just weeks into the district’s mask-optional policy. 

In the wake of the potential operational disruption, the school board has called an emergency meeting for 8 a.m. Saturday (emergency meetings require 24-hour notice). 

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The academic year at the year-round school began July 19, giving students two full weeks under the mask mandate, which Gov. Roy Cooper let expire July 31. The governor opened up the option for individual school districts to make their own decisions, hoping residents would be more likely to respect and comply with locally set mandates as opposed to statewide rules, he recently explained. 

On July 23, the Pender County Board of Education took advantage of the flexibility and adopted a mask-optional policy for the school year. 

Penderlea has encountered 41 total positive cases since the beginning of the academic year (with a total student body of 508), according to district spokesperson Alex Riley. As of Friday afternoon, 19 people are in isolation and 113 are quarantined. The elementary school has approximately 46 staff members. 

The board will discuss Covid-19 “protocols, procedures and processes” according to the emergency meeting notice shared after 4:30 p.m. Friday. Earlier Friday afternoon, Pender County announced it would require masks among unvaccinated staff members and the public in county buildings, effective Tuesday morning. 
Tune into the emergency board meeting, which will stream with audio only on the district’s YouTube page.


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