Union County parents frustrated as school board pressured by state to resume COVID-19 protocols

North Carolina

UNION COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — It can be seen as a shot across the bow, but for now, there’s not even a flinch from a Union County Public Schools over a letter from the North Carolina Department of Health Human Services, ordering them to resume COVID-19 protocols.

The UCPS school board voted earlier this week to end contact tracing and many quarantine protocols, allowing asymptomatic students and staff, and those who had tested negative and had been quarantining, to return to campuses across the county.

While the decision from the county’s school board has been met with praise, particularly on social media, there are a growing number of people who are expressing frustration over it and also whether the state can do anything to overturn what the board voted to do.

“My hope is that action is taken,” said Amber Eubanks, a mother of two students, when she was asked about the letter the state sent to the school board. “There’s a lot of people out here who have the best interests of the children, and that’s what we want from the board.”

Eubanks, along with several other parents FOX 46 spoke with, said that while the letter is a positive step, they believe the district could ultimately fight any legal action, and essentially double down on their decision.

“If there’s a simple way to mitigate the risk, we should always do that,” said Tracy McCabe, another parent.

“I’m saddened it had to get to the state level before someone would get involved,” said Jennifer Eckert, a parent of a Union County Public Schools student.

UCPS said in a statement that the board’s attempts to work with the Health Department on COVID-19 measures was unsuccessful. They noted that they would continue to work with health officials on reporting cases and isolating those who are sick.

As of Thursday, nearly 2,800 new COVID cases had been reported in the last two weeks, according to NCDHHS COVID dashboard.

“If we have a closed environment, and there’s not social distancing possible, there needs to be something at this point,” said Rolf Eckert.

Late Thursday, a spokesperson for Union County Public Schools told FOX 46 that their statement in response to the letter from DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen will be released “when it is available.”

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