Safe Return to School & Continuity of Services
2020-21 COVID-19 CONTROL MEASURES IN SCHOOL
Students choosing the remote learning option will complete their work from home.
Social distancing will be maintained at all times to the extent possible.
Face coverings will be required for both students and staff, except during approved breaks.
School campuses and buses will be sanitized regularly.
On buses, there will be only one child per seat, unless sitting with siblings. Because of this, buses may need to make more than one trip per morning or afternoon.
Parents are strongly encouraged to drop off and pick up students as buses will not have the capacity to transport all students.
Students riding the bus in the morning must have a completed attestation form stating they do not have a fever, or any symptoms, or have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive.
2021-22 COVID-19 CONTROL MEASURES IN SCHOOLS
Effective March 3, 2021:
Recognizing the growing harm to children who are out of school and relying solely on remote instruction, including negative impacts on academic and mental health and food insecurity, the StrongSchools Toolkit, the NCDHHS-required COVID-19 guidance for all NC public schools, was updated on March 3, 2021, to clarify the following expectations:
Kindergarten – 5th Grade Students: Schools should return to in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible up to five days per week while following all public health protocols in the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit. Schools must provide in-person learning to students in grades K-5 under the social distancing requirements for either Plan A (Minimal Social Distancing) or Plan B (Six Feet Social Distancing).
6th – 12th Grade Students: Schools should return to in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible up to five days per week while following all protocols in the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit, including the Six Feet Social Distancing Requirements detailed on page 8 (Plan B). The requirements for Six Feet Social Distancing provide an additional layer of protection in middle and high school settings, recognizing that studies indicate that younger children appear to be less likely to spread COVID-19 to others than older teens and adults.
Remote Learning Option: Schools must create a process for students and/or their families, teachers, and staff to self-identify as high-risk from COVID-19 and have a plan in place to address requests for alternative learning arrangements or work re-assignments. Schools must implement remote or other learning options for students whose families decide the student needs to remain at home because the student and/or their family member(s) are at high risk of COVID-19. All other students must be offered in-person instruction as outlined above (Plan A or B for K-5th grade students and Plan B for 6th – 12th-grade students.)
2021-22 COVID-19 CONTROL MEASURES IN SCHOOLS
Effective July 31, 2021:
RESOLUTION ON FACE COVERINGS FOR STUDENTS, STAFF, & VISITORS FOR SY 2021-22
WHEREAS, pursuant to NCDHHS revisions made to the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) effective July 20, 2021; and
WHEREAS the Cherokee County Board of Education has been made aware of numerous options with respect to the requirement of face coverings by legal representation and understands that without specific action ordered, masks will become optional on July 31, 2021; and
WHEREAS, the Board understands that with all COVID-related legal requirements from the State, the mask mandate becoming optional on July 31, 2021 could change through future legislative or executive action; and
WHEREAS, the issue having been discussed at a public meeting where the options in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit along with the recommendations from the Cherokee County Health Department were considered, and with other considerations, including those contained within this resolution; and
WHEREAS, over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, the transmission rate of COVID-19 between children was low within Cherokee County Schools, with most infections in children occurring outside of school; and
WHEREAS, all staff and students twelve years of age or older have the option of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination; and
WHEREAS, based on the CDC-issued federal directive effective January 29, 2021, face coverings are required for all passengers being transported on any yellow school bus, white school bus, or fleet vehicle used by an employee to transport a student, students, or staff members; and,
WHEREAS, the Board supports a parent’s choice that their student wears a face covering; and, WHEREAS, the Board supports a member of the staff, volunteer, or visitor’s choice to wear a face covering; and,
WHEREAS, students and employees that are not fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering while at school and are encouraged to discuss wearing a face covering with their medical provider.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Cherokee County Board of Education orders the action specified hereinabove and required face coverings while being transported by Board owned conveyances and understands the face covering mandate will expire and become optional on July 31, 2021.
FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED, that harassment, bullying or retaliation based on any person’s decision to wear or not wear a face covering is prohibited and will not be tolerated. Approved by the Cherokee County Board of Education this, the 30th day of July 2021.
Effective August 23, 2021:
It is proven that students benefit from in-person learning, and we are committed to having students and staff safely return to school. However, the impact of new COVID-19 variants among children and those who are unvaccinated is uncertain at this time.
Cherokee County Health Department and Cherokee County Schools are working closely together to implement the following guidelines to help keep students and staff safe and in school.
● Students and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and be referred for COVID-19 testing. Symptomatic individuals should remain at home until test results are received or they have been seen by a health provider and received an alternate diagnosis.
● Masks are required for all students/staff riding buses according to federal regulations.
Quarantine is required for an individual who has been a close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes cumulatively over 24 hours) of someone who is determined positive with the following exceptions:
● Individuals (Students and Staff) who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms do NOT need to quarantine after a close contact. Fully vaccinated individuals that are exposed are required to wear a mask in public indoor settings and be tested on day 5 after exposure. The mask should be worn in public indoor settings until they receive a negative test result. If a person does not get tested, they must wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days following their exposure. COVID-19 vaccines are available for persons 12 years of age and older.
● Students who are not fully vaccinated after a close contact in a classroom or other school setting if masks are being worn appropriately and consistently by both the person with COVID-19 and the exposed person, the exposed person does NOT need to be quarantined (only the positive person). This applies to exposures in classrooms, other in-school settings, and school transportation.
CDC continues to recommend quarantine for 14 days after exposure for unvaccinated persons. However, the CDC has offered options to reduce quarantine. Once the following conditions are met, then persons may return to school:
● 10 days of quarantine have been completed with no symptoms during daily home monitoring. Upon return to school, a mask will be worn until day 14 from exposure.
● 7 days of quarantine have been completed, no symptoms have been reported during daily home monitoring, and the individual has received results of a negative antigen or PCR test taken no earlier than day 5 after exposure. Upon return to school, a mask will be worn until day 14 from exposure.
● If a student does not wear a mask for the remaining days (after 7-10-day quarantine), then 14 days of quarantine will need to be completed
● If quarantine is shortened before 14 days, then individuals should continue to monitor for symptoms 14 days after exposure.
Effective October 7, 2021:
Face masks are mandatory for all staff, students, and visitors due to the high number of cases and quarantines.
Effective October 19, 2021:
● Unvaccinated: quarantine and (1) get tested immediately after being identified as a close contact. If the test is negative, (2) they should get tested again 5-7 days after LDE. If symptoms develop, isolate and get tested immediately.
● Fully vaccinated: No need to quarantine, but get tested 5-7 days after LDE and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days or until they test negative. If symptoms develop, isolate and get tested immediately.
● Ongoing Exposures:
§Unvaccinated: quarantine and get tested 2x – (1) immediately after being identified as a close contact and (2) 5-7 days after the end of isolation of the infected household member. If symptoms develop, isolate and get tested immediately.
§Fully vaccinated: no need to quarantine, but get tested 2x – (1) 5-7 days after first exposure and (2) 5-7 days after the end of isolation for the person infected with COVID-19. Wear a mask indoors in public until 14 days after LDE or until the fully vaccinated close contact receives their final test result. If symptoms develop, isolate and get tested immediately.
Effective October 25, 2021:
Face masks were made optional for all staff, students, and visitors.
Effective December 17, 2021:
COVID boosters were offered to all staff that were interested.
Effective February 29, 2022:
Masks are optional on buses according to federal guidelines.
Effective June 23, 2022:
As of June 23, 2022, NCDHHS has sunset the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit. Going forward, school administrators, staff, and families should now refer to the CDC’s Operational Guidance for K12 Schools for information on how to lower the risk of COVID-19 in school settings.
2022-23 COVID-19 CONTROL MEASURES IN SCHOOLS
GUIDELINES FOR EXPOSURE:
It is recommended that your child wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after the last known exposure. It is also recommended that your child be tested on day 5 after exposure (unless he/she has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days). Your child should be tested immediately, if symptomatic. If your child is tested due to having symptoms, then he/she should remain at home until COVID test results are received.
Symptoms of COVID include:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting