The city schools sent out a strong warning Thursday to parents about school attendance for students who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Whiteville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Marc Whichard said two students whose mother “wasn’t feeling well” sent her children to school after taking a COVID-19 test, but before the results were known. The action led to 40 students at Whiteville Primary and 13 at Edgewood being put into quarantine.
“The parent indicated that she, herself was not feeling well, and decided to get the entire household tested,” Whichard said. “This inexcusable action caused a great deal of time to be expended by our nursing and administrative staff in conducting contact tracing.”
Both school systems have had strict regimens since the start of the pandemic, shifting much of last year and this year’s terms to remote learning.
“Our protocols have been, since the inception of the pandemic, to quarantine individuals from households that exhibit symptoms, or have taken a test and are awaiting results,” he said.
“I continue to stress to parents that if anyone in your household exhibits symptoms associated with COVID or has been tested and is waiting on results, please keep individuals home so that we can keep our school safe and healthy and open for instruction.”
While the schools have remained relatively clear of the coronavirus, Whichard said, the wide community spread of the virus in Columbus County has impacted the city schools. Whenever a COVID-19 case is suspected or confirmed, school nurses and staff immediately start contact tracing and extra sanitizing.
“We have been fortunate that, through contact tracing, we have not been able to substantiate cases of school exposure,” he said. “Our exposures are a direct result of community spread.”
In a voice message to parents throughout the system, Whichard emphasized that anyone who has symptoms, is awaiting test results or has possibly ill person in their household should not allow children to go to school.
“We do not have spread in the schools, but the community spread has come to the schools,” he said.