Five members of the Wayne School of Engineering middle school cheerleading squad reported a COVID-19 cluster Tuesday, bringing the total number of Wayne County public schools with COVID-19 clusters to five.

A COVID-19 cluster is a minimum of five laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases, said Ken Derksen, Wayne County Public Schools communications and public relations officer.

Seven members of the Rosewood High School football team reported a COVID-19 cluster Sept. 17.

Two other Wayne County public schools confirmed COVID-19 clusters Sept. 16.

Dillard Middle School confirmed an in-school cluster involving a staff member and eight students in eighth grade, and Southern Wayne reported a football team COVID-19 cluster involving five team members, Derksen said.

On Sept 15, Norwayne Middle School also reported two separate clusters involving a total of 11 students, five in an in-school cluster and six in a football team cluster.

“As positive cases are high in our communities, it is not surprising that we are seeing increased numbers in our schools,” said David Lewis, WCPS superintendent. “Regardless of where it is contracted, any cases of COVID-19 that surface within our campus populations are concerning to our school district and local health officials.

“We appreciate the collaborative support of our school nurses and our local health department as we work together to help keep students and staff safe throughout this pandemic.”

WCPS reported the clusters to the Wayne County Health Department, and the schools are following recommended guidelines from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Derksen said.

Derksen said WCPS is closely monitoring the clusters and remain in contact with health officials.