Stanly school board approves immediately ending contract tracing, quarantines following state guidance

Published 4:33 pm Friday, February 11, 2022

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During an emergency called school board meeting Friday afternoon, members unanimously approved a resolution ending individual contact tracing and quarantining for asymptomatic people exposed to someone with COVID-19. The policy will go into effect Monday.

This also means that Stanly County Schools will no longer need to participate in Duke University’s test-to-stay program, which it has been a part of for the last two weeks. SCS will still offer free PCR tests to anyone who wants them, Superintendent Jarrod Dennis said.

The board’s decision comes on the heels of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services announcing on Thursday it will no longer recommend nor require North Carolina public schools to keep students and employees out of classrooms if they’ve had suspected exposure to COVID-19. Quarantine will continue to be required for any person who tests positive for coronavirus or shows symptoms.

“While contact tracing has been an important tool for slowing the spread of COVID at earlier points in the pandemic and remains important in certain high-risk congregate settings, individual contact tracing is a less effective tool for responding to the pandemic at this phase,” according to DHHS’s updated toolkit guidance.

DHHS continues to emphasize public health tools that are most effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 such as getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a mask while transmission rates are high, getting tested and staying home when sick.

Although exclusion from school is no longer recommended following an exposure, notifying students and their families of potential exposure is still recommended.

The change will greatly reduce the need for close contact quarantining or required isolation as a precaution. While the number of quarantines within Stanly County Schools has been on the decline, more than 600 students and staff were sill out of school last week while several teachers have been forced to cover multiple classrooms due to a shortage of substitutes.

By relaxing COVID protocols, “hopefully we can get back to a sense of normalcy,” board chairwoman Glenda Gibson said.

“From the very beginning of this whole thing for me, the importance was keeping our students in school and seated and in-person learning and I am just very proud today that we are finally, finally back on the right track,” vice chairwoman Carla Poplin added.

The new changes come during a time when coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been on the decline for several weeks. The Stanly County Health Department reported 268 new cases this week, the lowest total since late December. It’s also a 51 percent decrease from last week, when 543 case were tallied. There were 22 people hospitalized as of Friday, down from the 37 in the hospital the week prior.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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