Graham pivots to “Plan C”


Sudden switch forced by county’s rise in COVID-19 cases


Robbinsville – Instead of taking one step forward, Graham County Schools are being forced to take two steps back.

Just two weeks removed from the announcement that Robbinsville Elementary School students would be allowed to return under “Plan A” – which, among all other precautions, does not limit class size – Graham County Schools Superintendent Angie Knight announced Monday that effective immediately, all campuses would be moving toward “Plan C” – remote learning only.

The move was necessitated by several cases that have been confirmed in the school system. As noted by a release issued by the Graham County Health Department on Monday, positive cases have created a snowball effect: cases are identified, which leads to those exposed being tested and quarantined. As a result, staff system-wide is becoming depleted at a rapid pace, and there are simply not enough substitutes available to fill the voids.

“Due to the community spread of coronavirus and the high numbers that we’re seeing around the community that have trickled indirectly into the school system, we have chosen to go ahead and do remote-learning for three weeks,” Knight said in a Facebook video. “During that time, we plan to monitor the situation, work hand in hand with the health department and do everything we can to make sure we get our kids back to school.

“What we need you to do, families and the community is make sure you do what you’re supposed to do to help us get there. We need you to wash your hands. We need you to socially distance. We need you to keep your families at home, so that we can control the spread and get back to normal.”

Knight added that the tentative plan is for Graham County students to return to in-person instruction Monday, Oct. 26.

As of Tuesday, the county had topped over 200 cases – with 206 confirmed – and has had five deaths, all women in the last two months.

The county health department’s latest gender and age update available before The Graham Star’s deadline – released Sept. 30 – revealed that each COVID-related death in Graham can be attributed to those in the population ages 65 and older. Ages 25-49 make up the largest portion of positive cases, at 29 percent.