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Meck County leaders call on CMS to follow health director's recommendations

During the first three days of school, CMS reported 175 new COVID-19 cases. County leaders want more to be done to prevent the spread of the virus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More pressure is being put on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to follow all of the recommendations sent by Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris to the district. 

"I think I along with other CMS parents feel trepidation," said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Leigh Altman, who is also a CMS mom. 

Just over one week into the new school year, CMS has released its first COVID-19 data.

The CMS COVID-19 dashboard reports that 125 students in the district tested positive for COVID-19. That's out of more than 143,000 who are participating in in-person learning this year. CMS also reported 50 staff members tested positive for the virus out of 19,000 employees. 

The cases are spread out among 97 schools and fewer than 10 schools have more than 25 people in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19.

Altman believes masks are helping but wants more done to keep teachers and students safe. 

"I just hope that we will soon be able to have all the protections in place," she said. 

Before the first day of class, Harris sent a letter to Superintendent Earnest Winston full of recommendations that she wanted to see on day one. 

They included hiring additional staff focused solely on each school's COVID-19 response, weekly testing for staff who aren't vaccinated, and implementing on-campus rapid testing for students and staff with symptoms.

RELATED: 'We are concerned' | Mecklenburg County health director provides CMS with recommendations to limit COVID-19 spread

"So all of the recommendations are either in progress or already in play," Christine Pejot, Chief Human Resource Officer for CMS, said at a news conference after the first day of class. 

With several of the recommendations not complete or being practiced in full, WCNC Charlotte reached out to CMS to get an update on where the district was at on implementing the recommendations. 

As of Tuesday night, the district had not responded. 

"I wish we would have had this on day one, I'm hopeful," Altman said. "I, too as a parent and commissioner would like to know when they'll have the vaccine verification program in place and rapid testing on-site in place." 

WCNC Charlotte also reached out to the state health department which provides the vendor for on-campus testing. 

CMS said last week that it found out who the vendor was on Aug. 12. 

Meetings with them are ongoing, according to the district, but even when testing starts it will likely be a slow, phased-in approach. 

Regardless, your child will need parental consent before being tested on campus. 

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Mecklenburg County does not report positive cases to CMS if a student has not been attending school in-person for 14 days prior to testing positive because health officials say there is no risk of transmission in the school setting. Also, the dashboard does not include any students who are enrolled in the CMS virtual academy

Contact Hunter Sáenz at hsaenz@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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