Schools have to make tough decisions when a COVID-19 test comes back positive

Schools make tough decisions after a COVID-19 test comes back positive

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — There are currently at least three local schools closed because of COVID-19, which has forced parents and children to change their schedule.

Many families have learned there is not a standard response for a school after a positive case pops up. Education reporter Elsa Gillis spoke with parents Tuesday about the unpredictable school year.

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“I mean, it’s just kind of like learning how to fly the plane as you’re building the plane,” parent Amy Wells said.

She learned her children’s school, East Union Middle, was returning to remote learning for two weeks.

“I expected it,” Wells said. “It does make me nervous.”

She believes the school has followed safety protocols.

“We told them that there would be some uncertainty one day,” Wells said. “You could be there the next day, they could say, ‘OK we gotta close it down. We gotta clean it,’ this that and the other. And they both chose to stay home, do the virtual. That way they knew what their day consisted of.”

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East Union Middle was the latest Union County public school in the county to make the move to go back to virtual learning for a couple of weeks. Poplin Elementary, Weddington Elementary and South Providence schools went through similar situations earlier this school year.

Monroe Middle School parents were alerted this week that a student tested positive for COVID-19, but a district representative said the school remains open under Plan B.

Guidance on the closure of a school is based on various factors, according to Union County Public Health officials. They include:

  • Number of positive cases
  • How many close contacts need to quarantine?
  • Were the cases or contacts focused in one area or classroom?
  • Capacity of a school to adjust staffing to meet needs

A district representative said every case is different.

Wilkes said her family and friends look forward to a time when things return to normal.

“I just don’t know how they go to work, leave their kids at home, and know, ‘OK, are they working or are they not working?’” Wilkes said. “It’s a struggle for me and mine, so it’s got to be a struggle for the ones that have go to work.”

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