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Catawba County Schools discontinues written notification of COVID exposure citing the administrative strain

County officials discontinuing written notifications reduces administrative burden. Parents are being asked to monitor their kids for COVID-like symptoms.

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Students in Catawba County will no longer be notified with a written letter if they have been exposed to COVID-19 at school. Officials will continue to contact parents and guardians of potential exposure cases via telephone.

Catawba County officials say the elimination of the written letters will reduce the administrative burden as school nurses face a rising number of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant.

Parents will still receive phone calls from nursing staff members for notification.

"Although our school nurses and school staff are making every effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school, there are more new cases discovered each day and more children are being sent home to quarantine after exposures," a notice to parents says. 

As of Tuesday, Jan. 11, 678 students are in quarantine due to COVID-19, and 211 students and staff members are positive for the virus.

Catawba County Schools does not require masks for students or staff on campus. The board voted on Dec. 7 to revert back to its optional mask policy

RELATED: LIST: K-12 schools in Charlotte-area districts mask, vaccine and remote learning decisions

Children who show any COVID-19 symptoms should not go to school and the district is asking parents and guardians to isolate their kids and have them tested if they show any of the following symptoms: 

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Cough (for people with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from usual)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches 
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose 
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Any positive cases should be reported to the school nursing staff. 

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RELATED: 'All to the detriment of student learning' | School districts facing staffing challenges amid COVID-19 surge

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story reported the discontinuing of all notifications. The story has been corrected to indicate that phone call notifications will continue while written notification in the form of letters will be discontinued. 

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.