Some Union County parents say they have to use social media to contact trace

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — COVID-19 concerns are so intense that some Union County parents are taking contact tracing into their own hands.

The parents told Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis that neither Union County Public Schools nor the county’s health department contacted them when a child was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, despite state health leaders threatening legal action.

Now, they said they’re using social media to share COVID-19 cases in order to help one another contact trace.

In a private Facebook group, more than 3,000 Union County parents are sharing their own information with the name of their child’s school and teacher. In some cases, parents shared that they’ve waited 11 days without notice that their child was exposed, and in the meantime, their child has tested positive.

“In those 3 to 4 days of lag time, kids are going to school around positive COVID kids and parents have no idea,” one parent said.

A teacher said she knows of two cases but can’t call the other students’ parents to let them know to test their children because of the new protocols.

Parents said by reporting their own cases, they believe the district is under-reporting.

“There’s no way the dashboard is correct,” one parent said.

Here’s one real-life example a parent gave Channel 9:

At an elementary school, Mom A found out her child was positive so she alerted Mom B, whose daughter is in the same class. It was because of that notification that Mom B took both her children to get tested. They were both COVID positive. So Mom B alerted Mom C because their children are best friends in the same fourth grade class. Mom C kept both her children quarantined until they could get tested.

The parents involved said they still haven’t gotten any notifications from the health department, meaning there are likely some parents who have no idea their child was also exposed in those same classes.

Last year, Union County schools alerted parents when there was a positive case in their child’s school or classroom. Parents said they deserve that information immediately.

“I just don’t understand why 18 months down the line, they are changing everything and making it even harder for us to get the information,” one parent said.

The district told Channel 9 that the parents need to wait for a notification from the health department. The health department has said it will try to notify close contacts within two days -- provided its gets all of the information from the district.

The county public health director has already accused the district of withholding information before recently issuing a joint agreement about working together.

(WATCH: Union County parents express concern over quarantine guidelines)