On July 1, Guilford County reported a COVID-19 positivity rate of 1.8%. Since then, the rate has increased to 4.7%. A report issued June 30 by the ABC Science Collaborative showed schools can reopen safely when masking is in place despite higher-than-desired community transmission rates.
“As we have since the beginning of this pandemic, we will follow the recommendations of NCDHHS and the CDC for schools when it comes to the safety and well-being of our students and staff,” said Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras. “Right now, vaccinations and masking are the two most effective prevention strategies.”
The NCDHHS’ StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, which was updated on July 21, strongly advises that schools should require mask wearing for students and staff in K-8 schools in order to decrease the risk of in-school COVID-19 transmission. It also recommends mask wearing for older students and staff who are not fully vaccinated. In Guilford County, only 29% of individuals between 12 and 17 years of age are fully vaccinated. Students under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
The Guilford County Board of Education, which approved the mask requirements Tuesday night, also approved the superintendent’s recommendation to provide free COVID-19 testing to individuals who are not vaccinated. The tests would be funded by NCDHHS and would be mandatory for those who are not vaccinated who also participate in athletics and other high-risk extracurricular activities in which increased exhalation occurs, such as marching band.
The school board also authorized district staff to begin recording the vaccination status of all GCS employees and coaches, as well as student-athletes and students participating in high-risk extracurricular activities in order to plan and respond to COVID-19 appropriately. The information would remain confidential.