No more contact tracing for K-12 schools, NCDHHS says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- State health leaders say they will no longer recommend contact tracing in schools.

This came Thursday as a part of an update to guidance to the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit.

In the event of a COVID-19 exposure, students and staff also wouldn't have to stay home unless they had symptoms.

Currently, the Tool Kit suggests universal masking for schools in counties with high transmission but if it goes to low to moderate transmission, a district can choose optional masking.

Gov. Roy Cooper said they are looking forward on the issue of masking.

There hasn't been a statewide mandate for masks since last July.

"I'm pleased and hopeful we can get back to our normal lives with the understanding that we're all going to need to do things to make sure we protect ourselves dependent on the risk," Cooper said.

State health director Dr. Betsey Tilson said the focus is on keeping kids in school.

She said they've dropped the contact tracing commendation because it's not as effective a tool with so many people using at-home COVID tests.

"Life has gone on, it's just a little bit quieter for most of us," said Julia Findley, a mom to two students in Wake County.

Her son and husband came down with COVID-19 over Christmas but she and her daughter avoided it.

"I'm at the point where we've done everything we can do," she said. "I'm happy to wear a mask in crowded places, I'm happy to show my vaccination or a negative test to go to a concert. That's fine."

Christina Jones has a new reason to be concerned for her household.

She has multiple sclerosis and her husband just donated a kidney to his brother.

"My kids will be 100% fine if they get COVID," she said. "It's bringing it home to us and making us sick."

She said she wants masks to come off but is hopeful some cautions stay in place a bit longer

Jones also plans to continue having her two daughters wear masks for the time being even if the mandate is dropped.

"I've always known this was going to be an option the whole time," she said. "I've done my job, I've gotten them vaccinated."

Wake County Schools said it is looking into what the tool kit changes mean for them.
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.