BY KARISSA MILLER
Iredell-Statesville Schools Superintendent Jeff James said the practice of excluding asymptomatic students from in-person instruction (due to the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines that the school system must follow) is not what’s best for students.
The superintendent said it puts a burden on parents and also negatively impacts staff.
On Monday night, James asked the board to consider the following resolution, which reads as follows:
WHEREAS, the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education is committed to protecting the health of all students and staff in the Iredell-Statesville School system and to maintaining consistently high standards of student learning and social development;
WHEREAS, the Iredell County community and parents have entrusted the provision of excellent school-based academic and social outcomes for children to the Board of Education;
WHEREAS, the data and evidence consistently and strongly support in-person learning as the best method for all students to achieve excellent academic outcomes;
WHEREAS, the data and evidence consistently and strongly demonstrate that students who are sporadically, suddenly, and repeatedly excluded from school due to COVID-19 control measures have decreased academic performance, increased behavioral issues, and suffered emotional and psychological effects from the isolation and removal from peers;
WHEREAS, the large-scale impact of COVID-19 on millions of North Carolinians makes contact tracing and exclusionary control measures unduly burdensome for school staff, significantly detrimental to the school environment, and highly disruptive to North Carolina
families, students, schools, and employers;
WHEREAS, the practice of excluding children from in-person student learning imposes substantial costs on employers and special burdens on parents;
WHEREAS, the practice of excluding school staff from in-person instruction and supervision imposes substantial costs and loss of learning due to diminished pools of available substitute teachers, instructional assistants, and building-level administrators;
WHEREAS, in light of the development and wide-spread availability of other effective and efficient mitigation measure for disease control;
WHEREAS, the presence of COVID-19 in our State and County is likely to persist well into The future without a known or defined end; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Education will work diligently to safely, lawfully, and effectively end the exclusion of healthy, asymptomatic students and staff from the school to minimize the number of missed instructional days to achieve grade promotion.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education requests the State of North Carolina, the North Carolina Commission for Public Health, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to take whatever actions are necessary to end, or significantly limit, the requirement that healthy, asymptomatic individuals be excluded from school.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that to limit the exclusion for healthy, asymptomatic students from school, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services should consider and implement the following alternatives:
1. Allow asymptomatic students who are determined to be close contacts to remain in school by undergoing appropriate diagnostic testing.
2. Redefine “close contact” in the North Carolina Strong Schools Toolkit to mean being within three (3) feet of a positive individual for fifteen (15) minutes or more within 24 hours, regardless of whether the student or positive individual are wearing a face covering.
3. Provide ways to make the use of face coverings more flexible while maintaining appropriate COVID-19 safety precautions.
4. Positive antibody test results within ninety (90) days should be accepted in lieu of a negative test.
The board unanimously adopted the resolution and asked staff to share the news on social media and with others. The board members want parents to know that have heard their concerns and are trying to take a stand.