To avoid possible legal action, Union County resumes COVID quarantine measures

Union Co. Board Chair Melissa Merrell

The Union County Board of Education reversed course Monday, one week after rescinding COVID-19 quarantine measures and contact tracing for students and staff.

Dr. Many Cohen, state Sec. of Health and Human Services, advised the school board last week that their action posed an “imminent threat of serious adverse health consequences.”

Dr. Cohen made it clear in her letter the district could face legal action if it failed to protect the public’s health.

On Monday, a more subdued board issued a statement clarifying that the district will adhere to the quarantine measures directed by the State and local health departments. The new policy also shortens the duration of quarantine, based on further testing or if they are asymptomatic.

Masks will remain optional for all students and staff.

Here’s an excerpt of the new policy:

According to state law, our local health department has taken over primary responsibility of contact tracing and has reduced the length of the quarantine period of asymptomatic individuals, I move that:

  • UCPS will continue to follow its legal obligations of reporting positive cases to the local health department and providing relevant information to the local health department;
  • UCPS will require students and staff who are symptomatic or who have tested positive for COVID-19 to stay home in accordance with state law;
  • UCPS will recognize quarantines, in accordance with state law, of students and staff who are considered close contacts with a COVID-19 positive case.

Based on this motion, UCPS will continue adhering to the quarantine measures directed by the State and local health departments. However, if a student or staff member has been identified as a close contact to a positive case, they will not need to quarantine for 14 days if they remain asymptomatic, rather their quarantine period will be shortened to 10 days and could be shortened to 7 days if the individual has received a negative antigen or PCR/molecular test on a test taken no earlier than day 5 of quarantine. During the quarantine period, students will not be allowed to come to school. When a student or staff member returns to school after 10 or 7 days, they will need to wear a face covering through the 14th day.

Rev. Jimmy H. Bention, Sr. was the only member to vote against the new policy.

“This motion will cause healthy children to be sent home. I vote nay.”

Union County has 352 active COVID cases involving students and staff with 1,822 in quarantine, based on the most recent data on school district’s dashboard.

Click below to watch the board make their decision:

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