MONROE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Right now, students attending Union County Public Schools can go to class even if they were in close contact with someone who is COVID positive. While students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must stay at home.
That has some parents saying their children’s safety should come first.
The Union County Public School Board could rescind a vote made last week that stopped COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining students and staff who are not testing positive for the virus.
Liz Garlick has a third-grade student who attends a UCPS. She agrees with the district’s decision and hopes masks remain optional inside schools.
“They’re not doing any remote learning. The kids are just home for two weeks,” Garlick said. “I’m glad she doesn’t have to wear the mask every day I feel if they’re sitting at their desks, they don’t need to wear them.”
The board decided as more than 7000 students were quarantined at home for up to 14 days. Less than 1 percent of them tested positive for the virus.
Following that vote, North Carolina’s Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen sent a letter to the district insisting they follow the state’s COVID-19 toolkit for public schools or face legal action.
The toolkit states that isolation is required for all presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID 19 including anyone who has been in close contact with them.
Data from the CDC shows the county is more than five times above the CDC threshold for high transmission with a 16 percent positivity rate right now.
Those numbers are concerning to parents like Chantavia Martinez. She has five kids that attend schools in Union County and wants to see mask mandates in place to keep her family safe.
“Honestly right now, I just think that the kids should wear a mask like no if and or buts about it,” Martinez said. “I think that they need to do what’s right, especially for our kids, because our kids are the most important ones.”
The board plans to meet in a closed session on Monday at 7 a.m. to receive advice from counsel followed by an open session that will provide an update on COVID numbers and address Dr. Cohen’s letter.
Legal experts said if the district doesn’t comply with the state, state funding could be withheld.