Some exposed to COVID at schools in Lincoln County won’t have to quarantine

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — The Lincoln County school district is keeping its mask-optional policy in place, but changes to its quarantine policy have some people worried.

According to the district, some students and staff may not have to quarantine -- even if they are exposed to COVID-19.

Last year, if someone tested positive in a Lincoln County school then the parents of all students in that school were notified.

Under the new policy, only the parents of the students who were close to the infected student for 15 minutes or more will be notified. Exposed students can also stay in school without wearing masks as long as they show no symptoms.

School board member Joan Avery -- a retired nurse -- asked the board not to pass the quarantine policy and to require masks.

“Until everyone is vaccinated, the threat is there for someone to lose their life. That’s my main thing. I’m afraid that someone is going to lose their life because we are not doing all we can to prevent this,” Avery said.

The mask optional plan passed by a 4-3 vote and the board agreed that the superintendent can require masks in a particular school if COVID becomes an issue.

The district also has no plans on keeping up with students who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive.

“I think it’s a dangerous decision,” parent Dr. Becky Reavis said.

Reavis has a 12-year-old child in Lincoln County Schools and she is disappointed in the board’s decision. She said she worries that spread on campus can lead to a family member of a student dying of COVID.

“I just cannot imagine the effect that would have on a family and I think that’s what the school board is setting up,” she said.

Justin Farley has four children in Lincoln County Schools. He plans to make his children wear masks.

“Right now, I really don’t want to send my kids back to school,” he said.

His 10-year-old son, Jaydon, also has concerns because some of his classmates tested positive.

“I don’t want to get sick,” he said.

(WATCH: Local school mandating masks after 14 COVID cases, more than 150 quarantined)