Editor’s Note: The Iredell County Health Department and Iredell-Statesville Schools released the following information on Thursday in response to questions about mask and quarantine requirements related to COVID-19.

Special to Iredell Free News

The Iredell County Health Department and Iredell-Statesville Schools have received questions and comments regarding the mask and quarantine requirements implemented by Iredell-Statesville Schools. The following information is intended to address these questions and comments for the benefit of the public:

North Carolina General Statute 130A-41 outlines the powers and duties of a local health director. These duties include the investigation of over 80 reportable infectious and communicable diseases. Each reportable disease has prescribed control measures that are necessary to mitigate the spread of the disease. COVID-19 is one of these reportable communicable diseases with specific mitigation strategies that include the isolation of symptomatic or infected individuals and the quarantine of close contacts.

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 130A-144, specifically subparagraph (f), all persons are required to comply with communicable disease control measures. This includes school personnel. The applicable control measures for COVID-19 are prescribed by the Commission for Public Health at (10A NCAC 41A .0201) and include the guidelines and recommended actions published by the Centers for Disease Control.

The quarantine and isolation provisions in the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit reflect these mandatory control measures. Public school systems in Iredell County, including charter schools, are implementing the current COVID-19 control measure requirements as outlined in the NC DHHS StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit (K-12) and the Commission for Public Health’s rules (10A NCAC 41A .0211). While all persons are required to comply with the control measures, it is the responsibility of the local health director to ensure the control measures are given to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any other communicable disease posing a significant threat to the public health. This is pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 130A-144. Neither the local health director nor school administrators write, amend, or otherwise
develop the control measures.

The NC DHHS StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit (K-12) does allow the local health director to determine the length of the quarantine period within the confines of the control measures and the health director has worked with Iredell-Statesville Schools to minimize the length of quarantines. Local health directors and the State Health Director are empowered under N.C.G.S. § 130A-145 to exercise isolation and quarantine authority to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any other communicable disease posing a significant threat to public health.

The Iredell County Health Director has not issued, nor is she required to issue, a written quarantine or isolation order to the Iredell-Statesville School system. Rather, Iredell-Statesville Schools is following the quarantine and isolation requirements found in the NC DHHS StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit (K-12) and working with the Iredell County Health Department to implement the requirements set forth in the Toolkit. Communicable disease rules in North Carolina are not developed or altered at the local level, not by the local health director and not by the school superintendents or boards of education. Each health department and local health director is statutorily required to follow the control measures; however, we do not create them.

Concerns and questions related to the control measures for COVID-19 that include quarantine and isolation should be directed to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and/or state legislators.