Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Craven County Schools has been working to put strategies in place to protect our staff from the transmission of this virus. Our system has taken multiple steps to ensure the safety of our employees to include systematic disinfecting of surfaces, temperature checks in our buildings, closing buildings to visitors, and implementing handling procedures for mail and packages. These processes have been developed with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and with the consultation of an industrial hygienist and environmental services project manager to provide training and support for our staff. In addition, we have been very fortunate to have a lead nurse with a background in public health who has been invaluable to our administration and employees during this time.
We learned today that one of our employees tested positive for this virus. First and foremost, we ask for prayers and positive thoughts for the full and complete recovery of a member of our team and family. This employee never exhibited any symptoms while at work and has not been back to work since being diagnosed. While we cannot legally release the identity of our employee, we can tell you that the Craven County Health Department investigated this case and has notified all Craven County Schools staff members and members of the employee’s family who may have had contact with that employee in the 48 hours prior to developing symptoms.
We are aware of no other employee who has been tested or is awaiting test results at this time. However, we also are aware that not every person who is showing symptoms is being advised to get tested. For that reason, Craven County Schools has been consistently and regularly assessing our employees in buildings but also encouraging our staff to stay home if they feel sick or display any symptoms of illness. Any employee who is diagnosed or who believes they may be recovering from this virus will not return to work for two weeks. Thankfully, these employees may take leave that does not impact their pay or benefits during this time.
Craven County Schools will be continuing systematic disinfection and cleaning procedures at all of our schools to protect our staff and families. In addition, as an extra precaution, we have contracted with companies to conduct additional deep cleaning and disinfection of areas when that is necessary.
Physical school buildings have been closed since March 13, 2020 although we have continued with instruction through remote learning. During remote learning we have worked hard to create processes to facilitate and encourage as many employees as possible to work from home. This week, however, is spring break and our buildings are even more empty except for the school nutrition staff and employees supporting meal preparation for pick up at our elementary schools. Since the school closure, Craven County Schools has provided over 400,000 meals to students. This work can only continue as long as our employees are safe. Therefore, it is critical that we continue and redouble our efforts towards the processes of safety and physical distancing, disinfection, and screening.
We continue to urge our staff to monitor their health and if they feel ill, to stay home. Our schools will remain closed until at least May 15, 2020 under the Governor’s Executive Orders to help contain the spread of coronavirus and save lives. At this time, we do not know of any extension of this date. We know this may be concerning to hear about a confirmed case, but we believe we are doing all we can at the school district level to help contain the community spread of this virus but continue to provide the essential services of remote instruction and meals for our students. Please be well and continue to do the work of staying home as much as possible. For the benefit of our entire community, we continue to encourage all to observe the CDC guidelines for handwashing, wearing masks, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces where you live and work. Thank you to all our families in supporting your children as they learn remotely.
Submitted by: Jennifer Wagner, Director of Public Relations, Craven County Schools