JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Students are beginning their return to schools over the next coming days all over Eastern North Carolina. That then brings the concern of how schools will handle the newer omicron variant and its increased transmissibility.

There’s still a lot of unknown with the omicron variant, but some doctors are already noting that children seem to be catching this more so than the other strains. Hospitalizations for children from COVID-19 are up 66% this past week, leading medical professionals to believe it is overall affecting children more so than in the past.

However, new CDC guidance is also bringing down that quarantine time for vaccinated individuals, which is now also being shown in the state’s ‘Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit’.

Onslow County Schools’ Chief Communications Officer Brent Anderson said this new guidance actually helps keep students in the loop.

“I think the most meaningful change there has been the decrease in the exclusion time from school. Having students in class is our goal especially with all they’ve missed over the last couple of years,” Anderson said.

Anderson also mentioned that with school starting back up, they feel prepared but know that they will need to monitor the situation actively. Onslow County Schools’ Board of Education voted to continue to make masks optional for students. School boards for Beaufort County Schools and Carteret County Schools also met Tuesday and voted to continue optional masks.

“We are going to continue to monitor our situation here in the county and with our schools and be taking any proactive steps to be ready because there’s already adjustments that we need to make,” said Anderson.

Other districts and their officials also weighed in on the current state of COVID and how they plan to keep their students safe. When asked how prepared they feel to welcome students back after the break, Jennifer Johnson with Carteret County Schools says they feel prepared.

Carteret County Public Schools is excited to welcome students back to school tomorrow, as we understand that returning to the learning environment is critical for our students. Our staff will certainly be taking appropriate precautions as we continue to work with our local health officials in order to keep our students as safe as possible. 

Jennifer Johnson, Chief Communications Officer for Carteret County Schools

Representatives with Lenoir County Schools said that they are continuing to be committed to safety and are working hard to keep up efforts implemented by the system since the beginning of the pandemic.

For a deeper look at some of the changes made to the state’s toolkit, click here.