Mecklenburg Co. childcare facility reports new COVID-19 cluster; 13 children test positive at 3 separate facilities

Mecklenburg Co. childcare facility reports new COVID-19 cluster; 13 children test positive at 3 separate facilities
La Petite Charlotte (Source: Google Maps)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A COVID-19 cluster was reported at another Mecklenburg County childcare facility.

There are now three clusters at childcare facilities in Charlotte.

The newest one is at La Petite Academy Childcare Center, at 917 East W.T. Harris Boulevard, where four staff members and two children tested positive for the coronavirus.

In all, there are 13 children and 14 staff members in those childcare facilities who have tested positive for the virus, according to the latest update from state officials.

The other clusters were reported at Little Tots Preschool on Mannington Drive (eight children, three staffers) and Building Blocks Learning Center on Pineville-Matthews Road, which had three children and seven staff members test positive.

Patricia Ordonez, owner of Little Tots Preschool, says she notified the health department and all parents upon hearing of the first positive case.

“We did decide to close to make sure that we could self-isolate and follow recommended protocols,” Ordonez said.

Ordonez said she’s had constant communication with the health department and established new protocols for their planned re-opening in the middle of next week.

Those include rearranging classrooms to meet social distancing guidelines, cleaning and disinfecting to meet CDC recommendations and doing self-screening and temperature checks throughout the day.

“All teachers have been retrained on mask wearing,” Ordonez said. “We have made masks essential for all teachers and staff. It’s important for us to teach the little ones.”

Calls to Building Blocks Learning Center went unanswered.

State health officials previously said that seven children and two staffers have been infected with the coronavirus at Kindercare Providence at 1700 Providence Road.

However, according to health officials, Kindercare’s clusters are considered to be over.

Health officials consider a cluster a group of five or more cases.

Another 15 cases (10 children, five staff members) were reported at the Appalachian State University Child Development Center in Watauga County.

Another five cases (all staff members) were reported at North Hills Christian School in Rowan County.

In recent weeks, both Atrium Health and Novant Health have reported more children testing positive for COVID-19. Levine Children’s Hospital Epidemiologist Dr. Amina Ahmed says that is in part because more children are being tested now than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Again, the vast majority off kids will have mild disease—we know that nationally, globally, etc. But we are going to have some kids that have this MIS-C,” Dr. Ahmed said.

MIS-C is the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome that some children have presented with in addition to a positive COVID-19 case. In some cases, MIS-C can be serious.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced last month that schools will begin the year virtually.

Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order exempts children under the age of 11 from wearing masks but Atrium Health Pediatrician Dr. Debbie Chavez-Mitchell says if a child can wear one, they should.

“It is still recommended that if a child does not have any barrier to wearing a mask--- so if they don’t have a respiratory disorder--- then we do recommend they wear it if they cannot appropriately social distance,” Dr. Chavez-Mitchell said.

Coronavirus fears aside, Novant Health Pediatrics Symphony Park Pediatrician Dr. Kasey Scannell says with school out and many children not attending daycare, there could be educational and developmental delays due to their absence.

“I am finding it fascinating just about how this is affecting kids at every developmental stage there in because these stages are sometimes short and brief and you’re only going to be 9 months old for a bit,” Dr. Scannell said. “And so if you spend your entirety of 9 months surrounded by people wearing masks, or two-year-olds that aren’t hanging out with other two-year-olds, they aren’t developing social skills. How this is going to affect people long term I think is very fascinating, from a social-skills, language skill development standpoint.”

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