BY MELINDA SKUTNICK

As the Mooresville Graded School District resumed in-person learning for K-5 students this week, district officials reviewd data illustrating how COVID-19 has impacted school employees during the past seven months and discussed current plans for quarantines and testing.

Ingrid Medlock, MGSD’s assistant superintendent for human resources, presented the board with details about COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March. 

“Now that we’re welcoming back our students, [this] gives you a baseline of where we are,” Medlock told board members during Tuesday’s meeting. “If we have to review this information again, you know where we are.”

According to Medlock’s report, the district received its first COVID-19 case and positive test result on April 6. No additional reports were shared with district officials until mid-July.

Since July 13, MGSD has received 112 reports of possible exposure – 46 among licensed staff and 66 among classified staff. Only 30 of those individuals tested positive for COVID-19.

Medlock said 13 of those individuals, or 1.9 percent of total staff, have tested positive since September.

Although employees are encouraged to get tested if they are symptomatic or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, Medlock said the district “cannot force” anyone to be tested.

Some employees, she added, chose not to get tested.

The district does mandate a quarantine of 14 days for employees who have been exposed to the virus. To date, 160 employees have stayed home after being exposed — with 7.9 percent of staff, or 54 people, quarantining since September.

Among employees who have tested positive, MGSD requires 10 days of isolation beginning when the positive results are provided as well as a negative COVID-19 test before the employee can return to work. Those who are exposed may return following the two-week quarantine as long as they are fever- and symptom-free for 24 hours.

Approximately 130 employees at MGSD have been exposed to COVID-19, Medlock said.

Since September, she estimates 46 individuals have been exposed, representing 6.8 percent of staff.

Exposure occurs regardless of whether the employee was wearing a mask. MGSD defines exposure as being within six feet of a symptomatic or confirmed positive case for 15 total minutes or more.

Thirty-seven members of the MGSD staff have reported being symptomatic – fever, headache, loss of taste and smell, new cough, difficulty breathing, chills or body aches – since April 2020 with 12 individuals since September.

Medlock noted that MGSD is working closely with the Iredell County Health Department to provide the safest environment possible and adhering to all health requirements. 

Chief Communications Officer Tanae Sump-McLean echoed the importance of the partnership with Iredell County as she detailed updated guidelines handed down from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

A negative test on the rapid antigen COVID-19 test is no longer sufficient to allow students and staff to return to school. Rather, said Sump-McLean, the alternate RT-PCR test must be administered with a negative result.

Although both are diagnostic tests completed throughout this pandemic, NCDHHS now requires the more accurate molecular PCR test.

All of the COVID-19 testing conducted thus far through the Iredell County Health Department utilizes the PCR test, said Sump-McLean.

Also under the direction of NCDHHS, “if a child presents with symptoms, any household members also have to quarantine until that negative test comes back … If you are a family member of a student, you also have to quarantine,” she noted.

Sump-McLean and Superintendent Stephen Mauney told the Board of Education that the new guidelines had just been shared with the district, and they’ll discuss this week how to best pass along the information to parents and students. 

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