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Multiple Charlotte-area schools heading back to classrooms in districts with a high COVID-19 community spread

The CDC released updated guidelines that scale back COVID-19 testing and isolation in school districts.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Heading into the new school year, several counties in our area have a high community-level spread for COVID-19, including school districts like Alexander County and Charlotte Mecklenburg. 

Despite this status, voting on mask mandates is not on upcoming school board agendas at the moment. 

The COVID-19 landscape is different from this time last year when many Charlotte area school districts had mask mandates. 

MORE NEWS: Mecklenburg County offering vaccines ahead of upcoming school year

This year students get to return to the classroom with some normalcy. 

"When COVID hit and we had to transition on to into virtual, it was really tough because it was really hard to get kind of be being able to learn and not being able to have a teacher's assistants like right there when you need it," Moises Guerrero, a CMS student said. 

District-wide mandatory virtual learning is in the past, but spikes in COVID-19 cases are not in the rearview mirror, just yet. 

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"We ask that students and staff stay home if they're sick, they should stay out for five days or provide a negative COVID test result or an alternate diagnosis," Ann White, CMS Associate Superintendent of Student Services said. 

The CDC released updated guidance on COVID-19 procedures in schools.

 One of the biggest changes is ending the recommendation that schools do routine daily testing under most circumstances. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services typically updates its Strong Schools Toolkit shortly after new CDC guidance. 

RELATED: CDC relaxes COVID-19 guidelines, drops quarantine requirement

Schools anticipate some quarantines, but they should be significantly lower due to vaccine rates. 

North Carolina’s COVID-19 Dashboard shows 66% of kids 5 and older are fully vaccinated and 70% of kids 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

There are even some in this age group who are boosted.

The CDC continues to recommend masks in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.

There are lingering concerns about long COVID-19. 

"Students and staff members who have concerns about symptoms should work with their doctor regarding a diagnosis and present that information to the school," White said. 

MORE NEWS: If you're exposed to COVID, FDA now recommends 3 at-home tests

A Charlotte-based non-profit, Long Covid Families, along with other supporting organizations have created an online open letter, gathering signatures to present to school boards and administrators about the need for a COVID-19 safety plan in schools.

CMS will provide students and staff access to both rapid and PCR testing at the school sites. 

The district also has some free at-home testing available, as well. 

In addition, CMS still has its virtual academy for students who are choosing to stay home. 

Vaccine clinics for K-12 students are also available before the year starts. 

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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