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Burke County schools working to make up for learning loss during pandemic

Despite a decline in COVID-19 cases across the county, Burke County Schools voted to keep its mask mandate in place for students.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — School districts in the Charlotte area continue to take different approaches for COVID-19 protocols with Cabarrus County voting to get rid of its mask mandate later this month. 

The Cabarrus County school board cited a decrease in COVID-19 cases as a reason to make masks optional. Meanwhile, Burke and Gaston counties are keeping masks on students in class. Dr. Mike Swan, superintendent for Burke County Schools, told WCNC Charlotte the county's primary goal is to educate students on taking proper precautions at school. 

"Just based on some of the information that we've received from our health director, our numbers in Burke County are definitely declining," Swan said on Wake Up Charlotte To Go Tuesday. "Our positivity rate is 5.6%, down from last week, which was right around 6.1%."

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Burke County has 12,000 students in 26 schools. Dr. Karen Auton, the assistant superintendent, said the district is working to make up for learning loss during the pandemic. 

"We actually have identified 40 standards and we're helping our teachers hone in on what standards are essential from the previous grade level," Auton said. 

The Pfizer vaccine could become available for children ages 5 to 11 later this fall. Swan and Auton said the decision to be vaccinated will be left up to the parents. 

"We'll take a parent choice standpoint on this," Auton said. "We'll have it available to parents who want to have their child vaccinated but if they don't feel comfortable, that's totally their right as a parent." 

Swan said the district has worked with local health care providers for vaccine clinics for students and faculty members who are eligible for the shot. 

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