On Monday August 2, 2021 the Wilkes County Board of Education voted to make face masks optional for students and staff inside schools for the 2021-2022 school year. The board of Education states that, “we respect each family and staff member to make their own decision about wearing face coverings and will not tolerate any bullying or harassment of others for their choice.” This decision was solely made the Board of Education. Wilkes County Health Department Health Director did recommend to the board that they follow the Strong Schools Toolkit, which includes requiring mask for students, staff, and visitors.
Due to the continued federal mandate requiring face coverings while riding public transportation, face coverings/masks will continue to be required for all passengers on Wilkes County Schools' buses and while riding with others in school-owned vehicles.
Wilkes County Schools will continue to practice other health and safety protocols to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- encouraging COVID-19 vaccination for all staff and eligible students
- maintaining physical distance of 3 feet between students and 6 feet between students and staff (and between adults) to the extent possible;
- promoting frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer;
- encouraging coughing/sneezing into the elbow, with use of tissues;
- daily cleaning of all high-touch surfaces and deep cleaning when confirmed COVID-19 cases are present in the schools.
Parents should continue to monitor their child/children when at home for symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms may include but are not limited to the following:
- Parents/guardians need to monitor their children each day for the symptoms of COVID-19 listed below:
- Fever of 100.4 or higher
- Sore throat
- Cough (for people with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change from their baseline)
- Difficulty breathing (for people with asthma, a change from their baseline)
- New loss of taste or smell
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
If any of these symptoms develop, children should remain at home and seek medical care. COVID-19 testing is available free from the Wilkes County Health Department by calling 336-651-7450.
If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 and does not visit a doctor or have a COVID-19 test then the child can return 10 days after their symptoms first started.
If your child has symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19 with a lab based test (rapid antigen or PCR test):
- Can return to school when it has been 10 days since their symptoms started, they are 24 hours fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicine, and their symptoms have improved.
If your child has symptoms and tests negative for COVID-19 with a lab based test (rapid antigen or PCR test):
- Can return to school with they are 24-hours fever-free without use of a fever-reducing medicine, and they have felt well for 24 hours. Please note that the negative test must be a PCR test, and no at home COVID-19 tests will be accepted. All test results must be sent from a testing site or a doctors’ office.
If your child does not have COVID-19 symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19 with a lab based test (rapid antigen or PCR test) then:
- can return to school 10 days after their positive COVID-19 test, as long as no symptoms develop.
Not Quarantining vs Quarantine after close contact with a COVID-19 positive case.
A close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual for more than 15 cumulative minutes within a 24-hour period. If your child has been exposed or named a “close contact” with a confirmed COVID-19 positive person:
- No Quarantining Required:
- If both students were wearing face coverings during the school day or while riding the bus, no quarantine will be required unless the student develops COVID-19 symptoms. (This does not apply to athletics or high-risk extracurricular activities.) If the student develops COVID-19 symptoms, he/she will be quarantined for 14 days from school, athletics, and high-risk extracurricular activities.
- If the student is fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks after getting second dose in a 2-dose series), no quarantine will be required unless the student develops COVID-19 symptoms. Student should be tested for COVID-19 on days 3-5 after exposure and will wear a face covering at school until they receive a negative test result. If the student develops COVID-19 symptoms, he/she will be quarantined for 14 days from school, athletics, and high-risk extracurricular activities.
- If the student had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in the past 90 days, no quarantine will be required unless the student develops COVID-19 symptoms. If the student develops COVID-19 symptoms, he/she will be quarantined for 14 days from school, athletics, and high-risk extracurricular activities.
If your student is identified as a close contact and none of the above apply for the student, there are 3 options:
- Full quarantine-Return to school, athletics, and high-risk extracurricular activities 14 days after last known contact with C-19 individual. If "close contact" is with a household member, student's quarantine begins when separation from the household member can be established, such as the COVID -19 positive individual remaining in a separate location in the home. If no separation can be achieved, quarantine for student begins when quarantine of the C-19 positive household member ends (typically 10 days following positive test or start of symptoms.)
- Daily Symptom Monitoring & Follow Required Safety Measures- Return to school 10 days after last known contact, but student must continue daily symptom monitoring at home and must strictly adhere to ALL non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing a mask at school and practicing physical distancing through day 14. All students are quarantined for 14 days for athletics and high-risk extracurricular activities regardless of option selected for the return to school.
- Negative COVID-19 Test on Day 5 or later after last exposure- Return to school 7 days after last known contact with a negative rapid/antigen or PCR/molecular COVID-19 test taken on Day 5 or later of quarantine. Student must continue daily symptom monitoring at home and must strictly adhere to ALL non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing a mask at school and practicing physical distancing through day 14, returning on day 15. All students are quarantined for 14 days for athletics and high-risk extracurricular activities regardless of option selected for the return to school
Resources for Students: MESH = Mobile Expanded School Health. MESH is a mobile medical unit provided by the Wilkes County Health Department to provide medical care to high school students attending Wilkes County Schools.
MESH is staffed by a Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse every day and can provide minor illness/injury assessment and treatment, sports physicals, certain immunizations, and laboratory tests. The COVID-19 vaccine can be administered with a scheduled appointment. Over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions can be written by MESH staff if needed. Additionally, a mental health therapist can provide counseling sessions for students at the school through MESH.
All services provided on the MESH unit are free for students, except for sports physicals, which are $20. MESH does bill Medicaid, Health Choice, and most insurances. It is not the intention of MESH to take the place of your private physician and students are encouraged to see their designated provider for all regularly scheduled medical needs. Parents/guardians are required to submit a medical history and permission form for MESH services. A separate referral/permission form is required for mental health support services. All MESH forms can be picked up at the high schools or from your school nurse.
Please call 336-957-7043 (Monday - Friday between 8:30 am - 5:00 pm) to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine on the MESH unit.