• 70°

Editorial: Demand transparency, rapid response when COVID-19 cases arise in schools

There will be COVID-19 clusters in public schools in Rowan County as classes get underway. There’s no avoiding it.

But what matters most is how school officials respond in the moments immediately after a case is identified. Steps must be taken immediately to conduct contact tracing within the school and to isolate positive staff or students. Anything else risks turning five cases (the definition of a cluster) into 50.

School officials also must be transparent with the general public and parents. Because, while parents will understandably concerned if there’s even one case, not disclosing cases only makes things worse. An outbreak at the Citadel nursing home on Julian Road quickly became the largest in the state, a significant-enough problem on its own, but it was compounded by failures to communicate basic information to family members and the public.

Initial information about cases at North Hills Christian School appear to be an example of exactly how schools should handle positive cases.

The school on Tuesday was revealed to be the site of a cluster — a minimum of five cases — through the state’s biweekly update. And while five cases sounds concerning, the school appears to have found most of those cases by following proper protocols.

On Aug. 7, before students returned to the school’s campus, one staff member reported symptoms. And everyone who was in close contact with that person was required to quarantine. Four staff members tested positive while quarantined and none have been on campus since.

But North Hills Christian School is small compared to most in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools System and students have returned to classes at almost all local educational institutions, including colleges. The work of isolating students and staff will be much more cumbersome for public educators who work in schools with hundreds of students, each with parents or guardians who have varying attitudes about the seriousness of COVID-19. At local colleges, where many students are away from home for the first time, keeping positives to a minimum in the first place is a much larger hurdle.

As Catawba Dean of Students Jared Tice said in a story published online Tuesday (“Catawba Brings students back to campus with COVID-19 preparations in place”), it’s unnatural to ask young adults to make changes to socializing, but students should exercise responsibility.

Educators knew there would be positives when their respective educational institutions settled on plans to bring students back onto campus and into the classroom. It’s important for the public to realize that, too, and demand transparency when cases arise.

Comments

Local

Light installation could delay Bell Tower Green opening, but formal event still set for Sept. 10

Kannapolis

Kannapolis restroom listed among top 10 in the country, vying for top spot

Business

Mixed-use development planned near Atrium Health Ballpark

Local

Little League softball: Rowan plays for regional championship, qualifies for World Series

Nation/World

CDC changes course on indoor masks in some parts of the US

Nation/World

Racism of rioters takes center stage in Jan. 6 hearing

News

State briefs: Woman accused of taking baby to break-in

Nation/World

Man pleads guilty to 4 Asian spa killings, sentenced to life

Coronavirus

Rowan health director says COVID-19 deaths preventable as county reports No. 315

Local

Rowan County Planning Board denies Reaper’s Realm rezoning request after opposition from neighbors

College

Catawba College’s Newman Park renovations grow more extensive

Local

David Freeze begins cross-country cycling journey in San Diego

Local

Community remembrance events to focus on lynchings of the past, need for justice today

Local

August issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Local

After 10 days, three hospitals, one diagnosis, Kassidy Sechler will return home

News

COVID-19 surging as North Carolina set to ease restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Police ask for help finding robbery suspect

Local

Three Rivers Land Trust finalizes deal to double size of nature preserve in Spencer

Local

Spin Doctors announced as headlining band for 2021 Cheerwine Festival

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about Hoffner murder case, ‘Fame’ location

Local

Cornhole tournament at New Sarum Brewery brings out Panthers fans, raises money for charity

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking and entering, burglary tools

Nation/World

Senators race to overcome final snags in infrastructure deal

Crime

Child killed in Monroe drive-by shooting; 1 arrested