Parents ask Union County School Board to reverse their decision, bring back COVID-19 protocols

The board of education voted Monday to end COVID-19 contact tracing.
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 2:10 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Parents are asking leaders in Union County Public Schools to rethink their decision.

The board of education voted Monday to end COVID-19 contact tracing. Quarantining is now only required if a student of staff member tests positive or has symptoms.

Related: NC health leader: Union County school board could face legal action if COVID-19 procedures aren’t followed

Otherwise, students can go to school no matter who they’ve been in contact with.

“For a long time it’s been … well, you kind of go along with what the school board says. The answer is no. We are in a disagreement strongly and for the welfare of our community, and that’s why we are speaking up,” says parent Brad Cunningham.

Cunningham and Shalini Iyer both have kids in Union County Public Schools.

“I have two daughters who are currently in the UCP school system. However, due to recent changes, I’ve had to pull one of them out,” says Iyer.

Both say they’re troubled by the board of education’s recent decision to do away with many of its COVID-19 protocols, including contract tracing and wearing a mask in the classroom.

“I just send them off to school with a hope and a prayer,” says Cunningham.

“As of right now, the immediate call to action that we would like as concerned parents in UCPS is a mask mandate,” says Iyer.

WBTV asked the parents if their concerns would be different if vaccines were available to more younger children. Right now, the Pfizer vaccine is only available to those 12 years or older.

“That’s a good point,” says Cunningham. “The thing about elementary students is that they don’t have much of a defense against the coronavirus. Their defense is masks and social distancing.”

These parents say with limited defense against COVID-19 for kids, it’s even more important for the district to pay close attention to what kind of protocols they put in place or take away.

“At the bare minimum a mask mandate and that would give the authority to the teachers and school staff—a blanket statement - because they need to focus on education,” says Iyer.

The Board of Education says staff will continue activities as required by law and handle positive and presumptive positive cases. They’ll also report any positive cases to the Union County Health Department and provide information as required by the health department.

WBTV asked the district if they saw an increase in student absences Tuesday, following Monday’s decision.

District officials said they did not report an increase in absences. UCPS also does not have any schools operating on a virtual format due to COVID-19 cases.

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