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Union County leaders file joint resolution urging state to end quarantining, contact tracing protocols for public school students

The resolution is asking the State of North Carolina and Department of Health and Human Services to end the practices on or before Jan. 19, 2022.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Leaders in Union County are putting forth an effort to end contract tracing and quarantine protocols for COVID-19 put in place by the State of North Carolina and the state's Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) for public school students.

The Union County Board of Commissioners voted on a joint resolution, penned by the county and Union County Public Schools, showing support for the measure on Monday, Dec. 6. 

It was mentioned during Monday's meeting that Union County Board of Education members are expected to vote on the joint resolution during their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. 

UCPS said it did not have a statement to issue Monday night and that the board will discuss and take up the vote on Tuesday.

A portion of the resolution says both parties are calling on the state to "take whatever actions are necessary to end the practice on contact tracing and quarantining of students on or before January 19, 2022."

Another portion of the resolution says the county and UCPS will "seek to end quarantining of healthy, asymptomatic students and staff beginning January 19, 2022, to minimize the number of missed instructional days to achieve grade promotion." 

According to a statement issued by the county public communications office, the joint resolution does not diminish the importance of caring for all children who are sick from any communicable disease. 

You can read the entire statement from the county below: 

Continuing the long-standing practice of putting the future of Union County first in all decisions, the Union County Board of Commissioners and Union County Board of Education have put forth a joint resolution calling on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to adjust protocol for contact tracing and quarantine of public school students related to COVID-19.

COVID-19 will continue to be a communicable disease we must address and respond to, and we remain committed to doing so. However, we are at a pivotal point in the pandemic where we must adjust our policies to allow us to rely on tried and true public health practices, as we do for all communicable diseases.

By asking the State to reevaluate the quarantine and contact tracing protocol in schools, it will enable the public health officials and school nurses who have been performing the arduous processes of contact tracing to shift their focus to more productive programs and services.

This joint resolution does not diminish the importance of caring for all children who are sick whether from COVID-19, flu or any other communicable disease.

WCNC Charlotte has also reached out to NCDHHS for comment about the new development. 

COVID-19 within Union County schools has been a hot topic over the months. 

Back near the end of September, the health department and UCPS reached an agreement on how to identify and exclude students and staff with COVID-19, as well as identifying close contacts in response. 

RELATED: 'We share a unified goal' | Union County Public Schools, county health department come to agreement on how to approach contact tracing

Prior to the agreement, NCDHHS penned a letter to UCPS on Wednesday, Sept.15, asking the Board of Education to rescind a motion that was passed during a meeting on Sept. 13, immediately ending staff responsibility for contact tracing and quarantine operations for any asymptotic on non-positive students.  

RELATED: 'Legal action may be required to protect the public's health' | State pens letter to Union County Public Schools to follow COVID-19 toolkit

The board then voted to reimplement the measures during a meeting on Sept. 17. 

RELATED: Union County school board votes to recognize quarantines for close contacts of COVID-19 cases

You can view the latest Strong Schools NC ToolKit, updated as of Nov. 19, below. 

WCNC Charlotte will continue to follow updates as they become available.