Our top priority in all decisions is the health, safety, and well-being of our students, employees, and school communities. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, the district adheres to COVID-19 health measures required by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and consults with Alexander County Health officials to determine what precautions are needed in our schools to keep our students, staff, and community health in a safe and welcoming environment.
The purpose of our work is to educate children and support the safety of our students and staff. We believe the best environment for teaching and learning is within our schools. We are committed to working with you and our community to decrease the number of transmissions in our county. We will continue to monitor metrics in our schools and make decisions based on information from our state and local health officials.
We appreciate the cooperation of our families and community in keeping our students, employees, and schools healthy.
Alexander County Board of Education voted at the October 12 board meeting to use a procedure to determine the need for indoor masking in our schools. Masks will not be required when the number of positive cases in the school system is 20 or less for a three-week rolling average. This average will be determined using three consecutive weeks, beginning with the week of October 4-8 totals.
We have created an Alexander County Schools COVID Dashboard to assist you in tracking this information. Please note the dashboard includes data for the entire school year, even though our calculations begin October 4-8. We will also post an announcement on the district website, social media, and via the call system.
Preschool programs are required to implement a mask mandate based on the Federal Register announcement on November 30, 2021.
Face coverings are also required for visitors when indoors at schools or district buildings, including visitors to Board of Education and committee meetings.
If your student cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability, you may request a face covering waiver. The form should be submitted to your student's school principal. The form requires medical certification, which must be completed and signed by a licensed health care provider. Students are required to wear a face covering in school while their request is under review.
Face coverings should:
- Be disposable or have at least two layers of washable, breathable fabric
- Fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps
- Be reasonably comfortable
- Allow you to breathe easily
- Be secured safely over the nose, mouth, and under your chin and completely cover your nose and mouth
- Be changed if it becomes soiled or wet
- Cloth face coverings should be washed as needed
- Wash face covering in a washing machine using soap and water
- Dry face covering in a dryer or allow to air dry
Face coverings should not:
- Have exhalation valves or vents that allow virus particles to escape
- be constructed of mesh fabric
Gaiters and Face Shields
If you choose to wear a gaiter, choose one with two layers, or fold it to make two layers.
Face shields are not a replacement for face coverings but should be worn in addition to a face covering. Face shields protect the wearer from droplets getting into their eyes. Since a face shield is open at one end, a face shield by itself will not protect the wearer from breathing in germs or from spreading germs if the wearer is infected and doesn’t know it.
The Strong Schools Toolkit that was updated on December 30, 2021, no longer contains the recommendation for exception from quarantine for a person that tests positive for antibodies or a person that has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.At this time, the only way to return to school after an exposure is:1) Both individuals (the positive person and the exposed person) wore masks consistently and correctly.2) The person is up-to-date with vaccinations recommended for their age (this includes the booster shot if eligible).3) If unvaccinated OR have not received a booster if eligible, they must complete 5 days of quarantine if asymptomatic, but must then complete 5 days of strict mask use when back at school. If symptoms occur, they should continue isolation until a test either confirms or rules out COVID-19.
- Staff and students testing positive with symptoms should stay home, away from others, until it has been at least five days since symptoms started. Individuals with improving symptoms including fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicine) can return to school. They must wear a mask at all times (indoors and outdoors) for the next five days.
- Staff and students not vaccinated or are eligible and have not received the booster, who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should stay home, away from others for five days. They should test on the fifth day if possible. They can return to school but must wear a mask at all times (indoors and outdoors) for five additional days.
- Students and staff exposed to COVID-19 who are vaccinated and have received a booster or are not yet eligible for a booster do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask at all times (indoors and outdoors) for ten days.
If masks are worn consistently and correctly in school settings by both a person who ends up testing positive for COVID-19 and a close contact, the close contact does not need to quarantine, regardless of whether they are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.
This applies to exposures in classrooms, other in-school settings, and school transportation but does not apply to exposures during extracurricular activities, including athletic activities.
ACS will continue to follow the recommendations of the local health department regarding quarantine. Local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last in the communities they serve, based on local conditions and needs.
North Carolinians age 12 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov for more information and to find a free vaccination site in your area.
Stay home when sick
All students should have their temperature taken every day at home before coming to school. You may not enter an Alexander County Schools' facility if you are:
- Diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 10 days
- Exposed to COVID-19 within the last 14 days and not fully vaccinated
- Instructed to quarantine
- Sick or experiencing any of these symptoms of illness
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
When students can return to school
Students who are not feeling well but do not have one of the COVID-19 symptoms listed above may return to school after they have gone at least 24 hours without a fever or the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Schools are taking action to ensure all campus spaces and buildings support health and safety, including asking students to maintain as much physical distance as possible. Signs and spacing markers are posted in many locations to remind everyone of physical-distancing practices.
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. The CDC recommends everyone wash their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Teachers will be teaching handwashing in the classroom, incorporating handwashing breaks into the school day, and reinforcing handwashing during key times throughout the school day such as before eating, using the restroom, and touching shared objects.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, individuals are encouraged to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
If your child has sensitivities to hand sanitizer, communicate this with your child’s teachers so they can provide your child other opportunities to clean their hands.
High-contact areas will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. Electrostatic spraying will be conducted weekly and as needed in positive case classrooms.
COVID-19 reporting and contact tracing
Even with thorough measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on school campuses, anyone in the community could be exposed to the virus through everyday interactions on-campus or off-campus. To assist with maintaining a healthy school community, we ask students, employees, and visitors to notify your school as soon as possible if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
ACS is required to report cases of COVID-19 to the local health department and work with them to conduct contact tracing, which will determine who, if anyone, will need to quarantine. Individuals who had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to quarantine. ACS and the health department will work together to ensure that individuals believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 are notified.
Only essential visitors will be allowed on school campuses in an effort to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. Visitors will be required to strictly follow all health measures, including wearing face coverings indoors and physical distancing as much as possible.
Because of COVID-19, students are not allowed to drink directly from water fountains. Students may bring a refillable water bottle.