Honesty will be key to keeping COVID-19 out of North Carolina classrooms

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – No parent wants to worry about their child catching COVID-19 in the classroom. New protocols and guidelines were released by the state last week, and the vaccine has changed some rules.

But, for it to work, everyone is going to have to be honest — including parents.

“Basically, yes. That’s the problem with asymptomatic students is that they might not know that they have COVID, and so they’re sending them to school because they’re asymptomatic and could be a positive test,” said Deanne Meadows, the superintendent for Columbus County Schools.

Unreported cases could expose other people in the building. By state law, every school principal and operator of a childcare facility must report each case to the local health department. That information is sent to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which publishes the data, not names, online.

Meadows said her district, like others, has a COVID-19 coordinator.

“When she gets the report, she collects that information, asks additional questions to try and get as much information as possible, and then she works with our lead nurse and our health department to determine who exactly has to be quarantined.”

The vaccine has led to a change in the quarantine rules for those who have come in contact with someone who is positive.

How does a school know who has been vaccinated?

“We’re going to rely on the health department in terms of identifying who’s vaccinated because someone may say they’re vaccinated and not really be vaccinated, but they don’t want to be quarantined,” Meadows said. “We’re not going to dispute whether people say they are vaccinated or not or have had COVID.”

That process will be easier if families are transparent about what they know as everyone works to keep classrooms full. It also means that students and staff should do all they can to stay safe and not transmit the virus.

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