Dare County Board of Education calls emergency meeting as COVID-19 cases rise

The Dare County Board of Education has called an emergency meeting for 4 p.m. Friday as two more COVID-19 cases were reported in schools today, one at Cape Hatteras Elementary School and the other at Manteo Middle School.

School officials say 379 students and 69 staff members across the school system have been in direct contact with the positive cases and are in quarantine. Most of those 69 staff members are teachers.

The new cases at Manteo Elementary School and Cape Hatteras Elementary School added an additional 50 direct contacts who are now in quarantine. About 25% of the entire CHES staff is included in that figure, school officials said.

Cape Hatteras Elementary School will be closed Friday for the safety team to deep cleanse and sanitize the building.

Schools officials say they are receiving some questions when situations arise during the pandemic.
Below are some faqs from the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services:

Who makes the determination of who is a direct contact when a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 has occurred? The Dare County Department of Health and Human Services determines who the direct contacts are that need to be quarantined. This is not a role of the Dare County Schools administration.

Can you share more specific information regarding contact training? The Dare County Department of Health and Human Services is following the CDC and NCDHHS guidance related to contact tracing. Contact tracing of direct contacts starts 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms for the positive patient (or 48 hours prior to testing date of the positive person if they are asymptomatic). So, if an individual started with symptoms on the 6th, we would have to go back and identify all direct contacts from the 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. until which time the positive person was isolated. Their end of quarantine date for the direct contact is then based on the last date of exposure.

Why are we quarantining an entire classroom for one positive? Because of the prolonged time students are in classes together and the inability to ensure that 6 ft. or more was maintained between students and staff at all times. If a laboratory confirmed positive case is determined to have been in class during their contagion period the entire class is quarantined as part of the CDC’s and NCDHHS guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Why does my student need to quarantine if they were wearing a mask the whole time? While the masks being used by the general public are certainly helpful to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, they are not 100% effective. Masks are most effective when worn by the positive individual; you are actually protecting others when you wear your mask. Therefore, there is no way to verify the effectiveness of the masks being used or that individuals were wearing the mask properly at time of exposure. The CDC guidance states that quarantine is “irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask…”

“In closing, please keep members of our school community who are ill in your thoughts. We wish everyone the best of health and a speedy recovery for those who have symptoms,” Superintendent John Farrelly said in an email to parents. “I would implore everyone to keep your children home if they have any potential COVID -19 related symptoms. This goes for staff members as well. Please also continue to be vigilant in following the 3 W’s (Wear, Wait and Wash).”

To view Friday’s virtual emergency school board meeting beginning at 4 p.m., go to daretolearn.org

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.