Dare schools to end COVID contact tracing

Health directors call on state to move from ‘pandemic to endemic’ status

Changes to COVID protocols and guidelines — ranging from the lifting of school mask mandates to new rules on school quarantine — have occurred in quick succession over the past few days.

On February 10, two days after the school board voted to lift school mask mandates, families at Dare County schools received this email from the district with new guidelines for when students should stay out. from school.

“This afternoon, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released an update to the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit. According to the new guidelines, contact tracing in K-12 schools is no longer recommended or required by local public health. Students will no longer be excluded from school as long as they show no symptoms. The implementation is expected to go into effect statewide on Feb. 21 to allow time for school districts to make policy changes.

Dare County Schools Tracked Toolkit [and] with the support of our local health director, Dr. Sheila Davies, we will implement these changes with immediate effect.

It is important to note that the following protocols are still in effect:
  1. Masks are required on all school buses per federal mandate.
  2. People who test positive or show symptoms will still be excluded from school for 5 days and will be required to wear a mask on days 6-10 after returning to school.

In a sign of the growing momentum for these changes, on February 2, health directors from the Northeast North Carolina Public Health Partnership, which represents 16 counties, sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and at North Carolina Social Services, Kody Kinsley. The letter called for a “rapid transition from pandemic to endemic status in our response to COVID-19.”

In particular, principals requested that such a response move away from “universal case investigation and contract tracing, including school-aged children…We do not view schools as a population high risk”.

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