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How will North Carolina schools handle a coronavirus case?

The state's Department of Health and Human Services issued a screening reference guide with a dozen scenarios in mind.

On Tuesday, Governor Cooper set the school reopening baseline by selecting Plan B. Most of our local districts are deciding how best to implement this plan, which is a combination of remote and in-person learning. 

From limiting the number of people inside the building - to wearing masks - to setting up socially distant classrooms, public school systems say they'll take every precaution and employ every preventative measure. But health officials say coronavirus can still be a threat. 

"With these measures and the additional, robust public health requirements in our guidance, we can mitigate - but not eliminate the health risks of reopening," said Dr. Mandy Cohen. 

Mitigate, but not eliminate.

Dr. Cohen says it's important to remember this with the fall semester on the horizon. As districts narrow down a reopening plan, they also must consider protocol should a student or teacher test positive for coronavirus.

Angie Henry, Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer for Guilford County Schools, says these decisions go hand-in-hand.

"That’s part of the reason we’re working to design school the way we are - to keep working cohorts of students together, limiting anybody that has outside exposure to this group of students," she said.

RELATED: Breaking down the 3 scenarios Guilford County Schools is considering for hybrid learning

"We believe that that will help us for mediate or lessen the impact of a positive test by a student or staff member in our school so that if we have to cancel classes for a single classroom or a hallway or a single wing of a building - it's better than closing the whole building."

A dive into the 25-page guidance shows 12 different scenarios for students and staff, beginning with a temperature check and screening for symptoms at the start of the school day, or before getting on the bus.

Simply put - if they pass the screening, a student can head to class. But exposure, a recent diagnosis, or visible symptoms - revealed either before, or during the school day - will mean a one-way ticket home. 

What happens to the rest of the school will depend on exposure. Health officials say it's handled on a case-by-case basis.

The guide also spells out how to handle cleaning, contact tracing, and when the Health Department would step in. Click here to review the Screening Reference Guide.

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