Coronavirus/COVID-19NewsWatauga County Schools

Update on COVID safety procedures in Watauga County Schools

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Last Updated on January 2, 2022 5:19 pm

Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott has sent out updated information from the state about COVID safety procedures in school.

“As we return from the holiday break in the midst of an increase in COVID cases, it is important that we do everything possible to protect our students and staff. Our goals continue to be to keep our students in school, provide a healthy learning and working environment, and keep our schools open for in person instruction. Watauga schools have weathered the prior surges in cases without closing classrooms or schools because we have been diligent in doing all the things that work. Our board of education currently requires all students, staff, and visitors to wear a mask at school and we encourage parents to discuss vaccines with their medical providers. Our parents have done an excellent job all school year in keeping children home if they are symptomatic.”, Dr. Elliott also noted.


Below is the full email sent to parents and guardians on Sunday evening.


I am writing to share with you some important information and updates from the state about COVID safety procedures in school. Our goals continue to be to keep our students in school, provide a healthy learning and working environment, and keep our schools open for in person instruction. 

The rules for quarantines and isolations are mandated by the state and can be found online in the NC Public Health Toolkit for schools (see link below). Here is a brief overview provided by our local health department of the recent changes to the state requirements:

  1. Staff and students who have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested and be isolated from others while waiting for a result. If testing is not possible, follow the guidance below as if the person is positive.  
  2. Isolation: Staff and students who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, and
  • Do not have symptoms – should be isolated from others for 5 days, then wear a mask (including at school) for 5 additional days. 
  • Have symptoms – should isolate from others until fever-free and symptoms are improving. Individuals should isolate for at least 5 days since symptoms began and then wear a mask (including at school) for 5 additional days.  
  1. Quarantine: Staff and students who are exposed to someone with COVID-19, and
  • Not vaccinated – stay away from others for 5 days, get tested on day 5 after exposure, and if they test negative, return to school while wearing a mask for 5 additional days.
  • Vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but not yet been boosted – stay away from others for 5 days, get tested on day 5 after exposure, and if they test negative, return to school while wearing a mask for 5 additional days.
  • Vaccinated and have either received a booster or are not yet eligible for a booster – individuals do not need to stay away from others, but should wear a mask for 10 days. 
  1. StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit guidance that remains unchanged includes: Individuals who are not fully vaccinated after a close contact in a classroom or other school setting: if masks were being worn appropriately and consistently by both the person with COVID-19 and the potentially exposed person, the close contact person does NOT need to quarantine.

Our school system is participating in a program with the Duke ABC Collaborative called Test to Stay. This program allows students and staff who have to be quarantined due to close contacts at school to instead stay in school as long as they are regularly tested and continue to wear a mask. In the three weeks prior to the Christmas break, 69 students were able to stay in school using this program. Your school nurse will discuss this option with you if your child is eligible to participate. 

Also, this is another reminder that Monday, January 3 is the regularly scheduled teacher workday in between the fall and spring semesters. Weather permitting, the first day back for students will be Tuesday, January 4. 

Please do not hesitate to contact your school nurse or me if you have any questions or need assistance. Thank you for all you are doing to help us keep schools healthy and open for our students. I appreciate you very much!

Thank you,

Scott Elliott

Superintendent

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