Pitt County Health Director responds to COVID cases in schools

Coronavirus

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – “We’re going to have cases. We are going to manage those cases. We are trying to be aggressive with contract tracing in that population,” said Dr. John Silvernail, Pitt County Public Health Director.

COVID-19 cases at schools are causing concerns for students and parents. This week, ECU reported a COVID cluster in a student dorm. Pitt County Schools reported a student testing positive for COVID-19 at Ayden Elementary School. Silvernail said these cases should not stop the education process.

“Education has to go on. One of the biggest social determinants of health, whether it’s our k-12 schools or our universities, is education. I don’t think we should deprive or delay anyone’s education,” he said.

Silvernail is working closely with both institutions to monitor infected students, and do contact tracing.

“Yesterday, I prepared some written guidance for the school nurses with sorting out exposures and when to quarantine and when to test and those sorts of things for classrooms,” he said.

The Ayden student with COVID-19 is currently at home in isolation.

“Social distancing was maintained in the classroom, masking was maintained in the classroom so we opted to consider that a low-risk exposure and we opted to tell parents not to send other children home,” said Silvernail.

Silvernail expects more COVID cases this school year. He said a big concern is after-school care.

“After school, many children from different schools do go to the same after school program so that is a weakness in the system,” he said.

The county is working with child care centers to make sure they’re following state guidance. Dr. Silvernail encourages parents to keep their children home from school if they’re sick.

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