Constituent policy

State recommends changes in COVID policy for schools

The NC DHHS released a new toolkit on Thursday to recommend changes in COVID policy for schools. (AdobeStock)

State recommends changes in COVID policy for schools

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a new COVID-19 toolkit Thursday with updated safety recommendations for COVID policy in public schools. In the toolkit, DHHS announced that it no longer recommends contact tracing or quarantine for asymptomatic students who have been exposed to COVID-19. If adopted by CMS, the changes will come into effect on February 21.

DHHS still recommends that students and school employees who test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms of COVID-19 be quarantined for five days or more, and that areas of “high spread of COVID-19” retain a mask mandate in schools for all seniors. of 2. The toolkit says schools may consider ending universal masking once the CDC designates local levels of COVID-19 spread as moderate or low.

During a visit to a Goldsboro daycare center Thursday morning, Gov. Roy Cooper commented on the changes to the guidelines.

“I’m happy and hopeful that we can get back to normal life knowing that we all have to do things to make sure we protect ourselves, based on the risk,” Cooper said.

Later in the day, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) addressed the toolkit changes in an email to families in the district, stating that district leaders will determine how well our pandemic response protocols can be adjusted when the new guidelines come into force.

CMS has generally complied with all DHHS COVID-19 recommendations when implementing the COVID in Schools Policy, mandatory or otherwise, throughout the pandemic. However, the email also says the district will work with Mecklenburg County health officials to calculate next steps. The email pointed out that universal masking remains a requirement in all CMS installations.


Expected update on county mask mandate

At a strategy meeting of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington discussed the possibility of changing the indoor mask mandate. If COVID-19 measures continued to decline, he said, he could offer to end the term at the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 15.

The local indoor mask mandate was originally enacted in August 2021 during a spike in COVID-19 infections, largely due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant. Mecklenburg County’s original metric for ending the mask mandate was a 5% test positivity rate. As of February 6, the rate remained above 20%, although the number has been declining over the past week. Washington also cited declining numbers of hospitalizations and cases as grounds for confidence.

“This is really encouraging news,” Washington said.

If Washington recommends repealing the mandate at Tuesday’s meeting, the BOCC could vote to do so that night and the repeal could be effective the next day.


New details emerge around Scarborough’s absence

On Monday, WBTV reported that Commissioner Ella Scarborough, who the BOCC recently announced would be taking sick leave, originally applied for sick leave as early as October 2021.

Scarborough has not attended an in-person meeting since the pandemic began. She last attended a virtual reunion in October.

According to emails obtained by WBTV, Scarborough first requested 60 days of sick leave on October 24, which county leaders granted. A status update arrived on December 29.

“Pray for everyone to have a wonderful and restful vacation with your loved ones. I am writing to you today to let you know that I will be away for the foreseeable future as I continue to struggle with health issues. I look forward to returning very soon to serve the people of Mecklenburg County,” the post read.

Ella Scarborough. (Courtesy of Mecklenburg County)

Last week, county commissioners officially announced Scarborough’s sick leave request. However, no commissioner offered an explanation for those earlier periods of sick leave, which voters apparently weren’t told about.

During a February 8 meeting recess, in which the BOCC voted to approve paid sick leave for Scarborough, a a terse exchange between WBTV reporter David Hodges and commissioner George Dunlap took place. Hodges asked Dunlap several questions about Scarborough’s absence and his “failure” to notify voters of his sick leave requests.

Dunlap replied, “You are unethical and I told you that over a year ago! And I won’t answer any questions. I don’t care what you ask… WBTV – and you – are unethical.


Child pornography scandal rocks schools Charlotte Mecklenburg

Adrian Wayne Taylor, a teacher at Community House Middle School, was arrested at his home on Tuesday for child pornography. Taylor, who teaches journalism and debate, was suspended with pay the same day.

According to a statement from the CMPD, the department partnered with the FBI to launch an investigation into Taylor’s activities in November 2021. The CMPD said in a press release that Taylor used the file-sharing program BitTorrent to share files. “visual representations” of child pornography. He is charged with three counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

According to Community House director Brian Slattery and CMS spokesperson Patrick Smith, neither the school nor the district knew about the investigation. Slattery kept in close contact with the students and their families throughout the week. On Tuesday, he acknowledged the arrest in a message to families at the community house.

“I take these matters very seriously and will work with law enforcement to resolve them in a manner that provides for the well-being of all students and is consistent with district policies,” Slattery said.

In a message sent Wednesday, Slattery said counselors met collectively with Taylor’s class. Advice is also available for individual students.

“My goal is to provide our students with a cohesive school experience while limiting disruption in their classroom,” he said.


New street name changes announced by the Legacy Commission

On Thursday, the City of Charlotte Legacy Commission, which is tasked with renaming public spaces named for white supremacists and Confederates, announced upcoming changes to two other street names in the city. Carnegie Boulevard will be extended to replace Morrison Boulevard, and East/West Hill Streets will be split into four separate streets, each with new names.

Morrison Boulevard was named for Cameron A. Morrison, who served as governor of North Carolina from 1921 to 1925. Before successfully running for governor on a white supremacist platform, Morrison was a prominent member of the Red Shirts, a paramilitary group that sought to intimidate black voters throughout rural North Carolina. Originally from Richmond County, Morrison settled in Charlotte after his governorship. Instead of having a new name, the street named after him will become part of Carnegie Boulevard.

Hill Street is named after Daniel H. Hill, a Confederate Army officer who lived in Charlotte. Prior to the Civil War, Hill worked at Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) and Davidson College, eventually becoming the principal of the North Carolina Military Academy in Charlotte. When the war began, he joined the Confederate Army and led a local regiment called the Charlotte Grays to take over the local branch of the U.S. Mint (now the Mint Museum Randolph).

Hill Street, which runs through Uptown, will be split into four thoroughfares and renamed Westmere Avenue, Stadium View Drive, Civil Street and Good Samaritan Way. Good Samaritan Way will be named in honor of Good Samaritan Hospital. Built in 1891, it was the first private medical center in North Carolina to serve Black Charlotteans.



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