By John Farrelly, Dare County Superintendent of Schools
Dare County Schools is suspending any school-facility use outside of the instructional day for any gathering of 100 or more people.
At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services strongly recommended that organizers of events that draw more than 100 people should cancel, postpone, modify these events or offer online streaming services. These events include large gatherings where people are in close contact (less than 6 feet), for example, concerts, conferences, sporting events, faith-based events, and other large gatherings.
Dare County School facilities host many public gatherings such as those described above. DCS Board of Education policy 5035 Use of Facilities provides the superintendent of schools with the authority to cancel or amend facility use protocols in unforeseen circumstances.
Given the guidance from the governor and the concerns with social gatherings, Dare County Schools will suspend any school-facility use effective Monday, March 16, and remain until further notice. Any facility use partner who cancels an event may apply for a prorated refund by contacting Russ Gurganus, Director of Facilities.
Please note that this standard is in effect for facility use hours after the instructional day. As an example- large gatherings such as a school play or concert. We are not currently canceling in-county field trips unless students were to travel to a venue where there would be a gathering of more than 100 people. Schools are going to amend, alter or postpone programs where they would have more than 100 community members present at a school event (Ex. PTO event where children are performing).
As of 9 a.m., there have been no confirmed persons with COVID-19 in the Outer Banks. DCS and the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services are monitoring this situation closely on an hourly basis. We are certainly aware of school district closures across the state and the country. We are following the school decision making recommendations for communities that have no spread of the virus. We hope to be able to keep our schools open but are ready to roll out an immediate comprehensive digital learning plan within 48 hours of closing school if necessary.
Our senior leadership team has produced a new COVID-19 webpage for our stakeholders that provides a broad array of resources:
In closing, I can assure you that we are expending all energies and focus on monitoring this pandemic.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.