CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said will no longer conduct contact tracing to identify close contacts of individuals known to have tested positive for COVID-19 beginning Monday, Feb. 21.
The decision follows changes to the NCDHHS StrongSchools Toolkit, the district said.
Quarantine and exclusion from school will only apply to students and staff who test positive. They will have to quarantine for at least five days with declining symptoms before returning to school, according to the district.
CMS said close contacts or those potentially exposed to the virus will not be required to quarantine, even if they are exposed to someone in their household who has tested positive.
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CMS will notify families and staff regarding potential exposures through its dashboard that includes positive cases at each school. Clusters will also be reported.
Data regarding quarantines and close contacts will no longer be reported, and the dashboard will now be updated multiple times each week.
Schools will also send out one notification to families in weeks when the school learns that a student or staff member has tested positive.
In addition to these school-wide notifications, athletics teams and other extracurricular clubs that have a defined roster of participants will be notified if an individual on the team or club tests positive.
CMS encourages all families and staff to take appropriate safety measures and to follow the recommendations outlined in the toolkit if they are notified of a potential exposure: monitor for symptoms, get tested, and wear a mask for 10 days.
CMS will continue to offer testing at least through the end of the school year for students whose families have consented to the testing program. The district said it will also continue partnering with our local county health department and vaccine/testing providers to help increase awareness about the importance of vaccines and how/where to access testing.
CMS team members who test positive may still follow district procedures to qualify for contagious disease leave. Team members who are close contacts or potentially exposed will no longer be eligible for this leave, as quarantines are no longer required for these groups. Team members who are experiencing symptoms should get tested, wear a mask, and may use their own leave to cover any sick time.
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At this time, universal indoor masking still remains in effect for all CMS facilities and transportation. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education will consider modifications to this current policy during its next Board meeting on Feb. 22.
Principals and staff are encouraged to prepare for the likelihood that masks soon become optional for students, staff and visitors following Mecklenburg County ending the countywide mask mandate effective Feb. 26 and Gov. Cooper’s announcement recommending schools and local governments move to a mask optional policy by March 7.
"We remain committed to the safety of our students, staff and the community. Please remember to stay home if you or your student are sick or exhibiting symptoms," the district said in a statement. "Get vaccinated if eligible, mask up and get tested if you have symptoms. Free testing is available for students and staff at schools. Interested families should contact their schools for information on how to opt-in to testing."