New Hanover County Schools changes COVID-19 notification policy for upcoming school year

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 12:20 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County School leaders say they will not be updating their COVID-19 dashboard for the 2021-2022 school year.

While district leaders used to notify the entire school of positive cases and utilize a digital COVID-19 dashboard, they’ve passed all coronavirus surveillance and notification on to the county health department.

“We are not going to be updating the NHCS dashboard and will rely solely on the data management held by the NHC Public Health Department as the authoritative source of our community’s COVID data. This will alleviate redundancy in the data analysis between the health department and the school district. This decision comes from collaboration with NHC Public Health Department officials. In addition, communications with families and staff regarding COVID exposures will be continued on an individual basis, but will not be sent as an overall email to school families or staff,” New Hanover County Schools spokesman Russell Clark wrote to WECT. “The Strong Schools Toolkit advises that localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies. A district level COVID dashboard does not provide this data and is therefore not recommended or required to maintain.”

According to a county spokesperson, New Hanover County Public Health will continue their contact tracing for any positive case and anyone identified as a close contact will be notified.

When WECT requested any positive case counts for the year-round schools already open, New Hanover County explained that any clusters of COVID-19 within a school would be available on the DHHS website, public health “do not have case counts for specific schools,” and that the health department could only provide age demographics.

As of August 3, 2021, NC DHHS had no record of any active or recent clusters of cases in New Hanover County facilities. The report is updated every Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Representatives for Brunswick and Pender County school systems say their districts have not yet made a determination on whether or not they plan to bring back their school COVID-19 dashboards for the upcoming school year.

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