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Letter with information about COVID-19 protocol

Letter for Parents and Employees

Gaston County Schools
Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services
August 14, 2020

Dear Parents and Employees:

As a new academic year begins, we realize that you may have questions about what will happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your child’s school.  This letter provides you with information about the process that a school will follow.

Protocol when there is a confirmed case at school
The following information outlines the steps that a school will follow when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a school:

▪ School officials will work closely with the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services and follow guidance and procedures outlined by state and local public health officials.  Our local health department will handle the contact tracing process in a confidential manner and collaborate with the school on how to address the situation. 

▪ School administrators are committed to being factual and timely in their efforts to provide pertinent information to you.  The Parentlink communication system will be used to notify parents and employees by telephone and e-mail.  This is why it is important for you to have a current telephone number and e-mail address on file with the school.

▪ In the event of an outbreak, it may be necessary for a school to shift to full remote learning for a certain period of time.  Be mindful that a change to full remote learning may have to be done quickly with less than a day’s notice. 

▪ Because of our obligation to protect the privacy of students and employees as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) federal laws, the school cannot release specific information about a confirmed case.  The names of the people affected and other personally identifiable information will be provided to public health officials in accordance with reporting requirements; however, this information will not be released to the public or the media.

▪ Students, employees, parents, and others should refrain from sharing inaccurate information.  Please do not spread rumors as this may create panic, anxiety, and mistrust for your child’s school family.

Protocol when a student/employee exhibits symptoms
The following information outlines the steps that a school will follow when a student or employee exhibits COVID-19 symptoms while at school:

▪ If the person is an employee, he or she will be sent home immediately.  If the person is a student, a parent will be contacted and asked to pick up the student immediately.  

▪ Parents/employees will be advised to contact their healthcare professional or the local health department for further guidance on general questions about COVID-19 and information about testing.

▪ A face covering will be given to the person if he or she does not have one.  If the person is a student, he or she will be taken to a designated room or office for isolation from others until being picked up by a parent/guardian.

▪ The student will be supervised by a staff member who maintains at least six feet of space and wears personal protective equipment (PPE).

▪ Areas where the student or employee may have been will be closed off and cleaned/disinfected properly.  

▪ The person designated as the school’s COVID-19 coordinator will notify Gaston County Schools Health Services of the incident.  Health Services will contact the local health department to determine next steps and a plan of action.

Good hygiene practices to remember
We would like for you to review the following hygiene practices and do your part to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.  It is a good idea to review these practices with your child and others in your family.

▪ Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer; 

▪ Keep your social distance (at least six feet of space) from others;
▪ Wear a mask/face covering when in public;
▪ Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing;
▪ Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
▪ Clean touch points, surfaces, and other high-contact areas regularly; and
▪ Stay at home if you are not feeling well.  If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your healthcare professional.

Thank you for your continued support of your child’s school.  The safety of everyone associated with our school community is extremely important, and our hope is that all of us can work together to support each other as we face this global pandemic.  


W. Jeffery Booker, Ed.D.          
Gaston County Schools

Steve Eaton, MPH
Public Health Director
Gaston County 
Department of Health and Human Services

Click here for the “Lighting Our Way Forward: North Carolina’s Guidebook for Reopening Public Schools” document.

Click here for the “Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12)” document.  Click here for the document in Spanish.

Click here for the “Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12)” Frequently Asked Questions.  Click here for the document in Spanish.

Click here for the “Reference Guide for Suspected, Presumptive, or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 (K-12)” document.