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NCDHHS Updates StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit

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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Department of Health and Human Serviceshttps://www.ncdhhs.gov/
The Department of Health and Human Services manages the delivery of health- and human-related services for all North Carolinians, especially our most vulnerable citizens – children, elderly, disabled and low-income families. The Department works closely with health care professionals, community leaders and advocacy groups; local, state and federal entities; and many other stakeholders to make this happen. Led by Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, the Department is divided into 30 divisions and offices. NCDHHS divisions and offices fall under four broad service areas - health, human services, administrative and support functions. NCDHHS also oversees 14 facilities: developmental centers, neuro-medical treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers, and two residential programs for children. Please see the general information tab for our comment policy.

Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

Raleigh Feb 10, 2022
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced today that updates have been made to the StrongSchoolsNC’s public health toolkit that focuses on strategies that are most effective at this stage of the pandemic, such as vaccinations, boosters, tests, and masks, and no longer recommends individual contact. monitoring in K-12 schools. In addition, NCDHHS recommends that students and staff no longer be required to stay home from school after an exposure to COVID-19, unless they have symptoms or test positive. Similar updates will be made to the ChildCareStrongNC Public Health Toolkit. Updates to both toolsets will become effective on February 21, 2022.

“We are committed to ensuring North Carolinians have the guidance and information they need to balance their risk during each stage of the pandemic and learn to live with COVID-19,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Keeping children in the classroom remains a top priority. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we are evaluating what tools are most effective in protecting students and staff. This is the right approach for this point in the pandemic and includes flexibility for local schools and health departments to use data to make informed decisions and respond to local conditions.

Building on the lessons learned during the Omicron surge and throughout the pandemic, NCDHHS continues to emphasize the public health tools that are most effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. These tools, which are outlined in the toolkit guide, include promoting vaccination and boosting, wearing a mask while transmission rates are high, getting tested, and staying home if sick.

“Our response to COVID-19 is built on teamwork and trust between local officials, school nurses, child care staff and parents as we follow the science and use the best public health tools available.” to protect our children,” said the state health director and NCDHHS. Medical Director Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD “When conditions change, we adapt our tools, prioritize what works, and stay focused on our shared goal: keeping our children healthy and learning.”

Contact tracing has been an important tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and remains important in certain high-risk congregate settings. However, several factors at this stage of the pandemic have diminished the overall effectiveness of contact tracing in K-12 schools and the wider community. These factors include:

  • Appearance of variants with shorter incubation periods and rapid transmission.
  • People with infections are most contagious before symptoms start and during the first few days of illness.
  • Increased number of asymptomatic and less severe cases due, in part, to increased immunity from vaccination and past infection.
  • Many infections are never identified by public health agencies because people with mild or asymptomatic cases may not get tested and because of the increasing use of “over-the-counter” home tests.
  • Widespread virus and low case and contact identification rates limit the effectiveness of contact tracing to reduce transmission.

Although exclusion from school after an exposure is no longer recommended, notification of possible exposure is recommended. The updated toolkit includes options for schools to notify potentially exposed students or staff when a case of COVID-19 is identified in the school setting. Local schools and health departments may choose to continue contact tracing; NCDHHS has provided suggested strategies in the toolkit for schools to consider based on local conditions.

NCDHHS regularly updates the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit to ensure local K-12 schools have the best tools available to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep students in the classroom while providing flexibility for local schools and health departments to use data premises to assess and respond. to local conditions.

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