NC doesn’t require districts to notify parents, staff when COVID-19 cases pop up

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some school districts have been providing more information than others as the COVID-19 cases rise within many of their communities.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, school systems don’t have to report any information to parents and staff. They only need to report to county health departments, which, in turn, do contact tracing.

Every Tuesday and Friday, NCDHHS updates its COVID-19 dashboard. Among the data included are clusters at child-care facilities and schools. A cluster means five or more cases.

As CBS 17 reported, Helena Elementary School in Person County made the list. It had six cases.

Then a parent reached out, saying they heard there were more cases in other schools not being reported. In response to an email, the district confirmed 11 other cases at eight other schools. That data wouldn’t meet the criteria of a cluster, hence why it isn’t on the list.

“Transparency. As much information should be shared as possible,” said parent and teacher Stephanie Fisher.

School districts have to weigh patient privacy versus public health. Each is handling it a bit differently.

In Wake County, emails have gone out to parents and staff at several schools this week. The only specifics they provide: “individual associated with our school has tested positive.”

“We encountered a lot of staff and public rumors that were rooted in everyone’s lack of awareness of the actual numbers,” said Dr. Bob Grimesey, the Superintendent with Moore County Schools.

That led Grimesey and his staff to go a different route. They have a link to a COVID-19 tracking sheet right on their homepage. It includes information on every case at every school. It’s updated daily.

“Very positive feedback, but, to be honest perhaps the most substantive feedback has been a literal absence of rumor and fear. That simple chart has contributed to a high level of trust and confidence,” Grimesey said.

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