Seven members of the Rosewood High football team reported a COVID-19 cluster, with four Wayne County public schools now confirming a cluster of infected staff and students during the past week.

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.

“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.”

On Thursday, 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 Wednesday, 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 part of its COVID-19 protocols, WCPS reported and confirmed the clusters with the Wayne County Health Department, Derksen said. The schools are following recommended guidelines from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Derksen also said WCPS is closely monitoring the clusters and remain in close communication with health officials.

As of Sept. 15, there were 907 estimated active COVID-19 cases in Wayne County, according to the Wayne County COVID-19 dashboard. Since March 2020, there have been 14,294 positive COVID-19 cases and 279 deaths.