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With spread of virus, Mecklenburg County opts to close offices to public

SoVaNow.com / September 01, 2021
As the spread of COVID-19 intensifies in Mecklenburg, county government offices are closing.

County Administrator Wayne Carter announced Friday that administrative offices — including those for Zoning Administrator, Building Inspector, Tourism, Emergency Management, Social Services, Mecklenburg County Sheriff, Elections Registrar, County Treasurer and Commissioner of Revenue — will be closed to the public until further notice.

Persons invited to take part in specific meetings will be allowed inside the buildings. Individuals who want to meet with county staff in person should call (434) 738-6191 to make an appointment.

Clerk of Court Michelle Gordon said the office of circuit court will remain open to the public during this time. “I believe we have sufficient safeguards in place to protect the staff and the public,” said Gordon. Members of the public may be asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing while conducting business in the clerk’s office.

These precautions are intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among county employees. In the past seven days Mecklenburg County has seen a significant increase in COVID-19, with more than 110 confirmed cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health.

The federal Centers for Disease Control reports that coronavirus transmission in Mecklenburg County is running at a “high” level. In the seven-day period ending Sunday, the number of new cases in Mecklenburg County reported by the CDC jumped by nearly 31 percent.

Mecklenburg County Schools Superintendent Paul Nichols said county schools will open on schedule for in-person learning starting Sept. 7, in accordance with temporary provisions enacted by the General Assembly earlier this year.

Nichols said SB 1303 mandates that each school division throughout Virginia offer in-person instruction to its students five days a week unless, after consulting with the local department of health, the rate of transmission of COVID-19 within a building or classroom is deemed to be at a high level.

In such instances, the school division can provide fully remote virtual instruction or a combination of in-person instruction and remote virtual instruction for at-risk groups of students or, if needed, the entire student population. But remote learning can last only for as long as necessary to mitigate the level of transmission of COVID-19 inside a school building or classroom.

Nichols said this mandate prevents Mecklenburg County Public Schools from implementing social distancing protocols such as those put in place last year when students attended school in-person on alternate weeks. MCPS can and will require students and staff to wear face masks while at school or traveling on the bus to or from school, Nichols said. Students and staff will also be required to wash their hands frequently and not go out if sick.

He added that teachers, staff and eligible students are encouraged to get vaccinated, but he is not asking the School Board to order anyone associated with the division to be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

School and county officials say they will continue to evaluate transmission rates and the office closures on a weekly basis.

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