Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston. Photo courtesy of CMS

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston has been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy following a medical emergency that happened in the middle of a virtual leadership meeting Tuesday. 

In a letter to CMS faculty and leadership, Winston said he began feeling a few symptoms on Monday, but they became more apparent during the leadership meeting.  

“I felt fine, but the symptoms were enough that I realized I needed to have things checked out,” the superintendent said in the letter.

Winston underwent a series of tests in the emergency room of a local hospital before doctors diagnosed him with Bell’s Palsy. The rare condition, a form of temporary facial paralysis or weakness on one side of the face, affects about 40,000 people in the U.S. every year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes.

The condition can be remedied with medication and diet, doctors told Winston. 

“I certainly feel relief that available remedies will take care of this condition, but today’s experience is a great reminder for us all to take care of ourselves,” he said. “Listen to your body and take action at the first sign something is off.”

Winston recommended CMS faculty and leadership schedule a physical examination because in some cases doctors can reveal underlying health conditions. 

“The extra time can mean all the difference,” he said. “Please use this experience as a moment to remember yourself, and to coach anyone you know who may be pushing through pain or ignoring something that doesn’t seem quite right.”

CMS spokespeople reported that Winston is now doing fine after the diagnosis. 

Winston was named CMS superintendent in August 2019 after the suspension and resignation of Clayton Wilcox a month earlier. 

Jonathan is a former QCity Metro reporter who covered Charlotte neighborhoods north of uptown. He also reported on education, public safety and health.

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