Early Monday, the Union County school board voted 8-1 to immediately stop COVID-19 contact tracing and significantly curtail coronavirus quarantine requirements.
Against advice of Union County’s health department as well as state and federal recommendations on reducing COVID-19 risks in classrooms, the school district will not require quarantine for students even if they’ve been in contact with someone who is sick. Union County Public Schools, under this change, says students must stay home only if they have tested positive or have clear COVID-19 symptoms.
Recently, thousands of students in Union County were in proactive quarantine after being possibly exposed at school.
Those students are allowed to go back to school as long as they are not on the positive list and are not showing symptoms, Melissa Merrell, the board chairperson, said.
“(This is effective) immediately,” Merrell said.
Union County does not have a mask mandate, but masks are still required on school buses.
Health leaders nationwide have said the return to in-person learning during the pandemic will be safest if students and staff wear masks indoors and if school leaders use contact tracing and quarantine requirements to avoid a small number of cases from growing to an outbreak.
Only three school districts in North Carolina have restarted school this semester without a strict mask requirement.
This is a developing story.