RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Public School System wrote to parents and students on Thursday urging them to be safe and vigilant ahead of next week's return to classes.
"Face coverings, hand washing and keeping as much distance as practical from others will be important," the letter said. "Health officials also continue to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated to reduce the spread of infection."
Administrators also alerted parents to a new weekly, on-campus COVID-19 testing program for students and staff.
"COVID-19 testing is an effective way to reduce transmission, especially when layered with other precautionary measures," they added. Families can even now start to Register for in-school COVID-19 testing.
As the Omicron variant continues to spread across the state at a record pace, North Carolina's ABC Science Collaborative released a new study reaffirming how a robust testing strategy could keep students in the classroom and out of quarantine.
"Along with other proven safety measures such as vaccination and rapid identification and contact tracing of SARS-CoV-2 cases, 'test-to-stay' can be part of a comprehensive plan to increase in-person learning and return to a resemblance of pre-pandemic life in schools," Dr. Danny Benjamin and Dr. Kanecia Zimmerman, the collaborative's co-chairs, wrote in a letter to NC DHHS.
"There were no instances in the ABC Science Collaborative 'test-to-stay' study where an exposed child became infected and went on to infect other children or adults within the school building," Zimmerman added. "Implementation of 'test-to-stay' reduced missed days of school during quarantine by more than 90%, saving 1,628 days of in-person learning over the course of the study."
The district's determination to remain open -- for now -- despite the Omicron surge has been welcome news to many parents, including Melissa Duncan, who said she's nervous WCPSS could go remote like it did last year after winter break.
"Remote doesn't work. We've all figured that out," she said. "We're all vaccinated in our family. All boosted. We have mitigations in place, drugs on the market now. There's not much else to do. We're at a point now where we can start to go off the exit ramp and keep going forward."