MONROE – Staff with Union County Public Schools engages with Dennis Joyner almost daily regarding COVID-19, but members of the school board continue to be perplexed by the public health director's guidance.

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit, which UCPS follows for COVID-19 protocols, allows people with positive antibody tests to exempt from quarantine if approved by the public health director. The school board was told Nov. 4 that Joyner has not accepted such tests due to a lack of manpower.

Sides suggested the county invest some money into getting the health department help since the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched for more than a year. He vowed that if his son gets a quarantine notice, he'll take him to the doctor for an antibody test and rush those results to the county health department for an explanation.

How is it fair to UCPS parents to recognize some of the options of the toolkit and not all,” Sides said. “Why does he not agree to this?”

Sides suggested the school board extend a formal invitation for Joyner to meet with the board and answer the question why he won't accept positive antibody tests.

UCPS voted 7-2 to remain mask optional. The Rev. John Kirkpatrick and Joseph Morreale casting dissenting votes.

Kirkpatrick wanted colleagues to consider the upcoming holidays and colder weather season, emphasizing requiring masks will help keep students and staff safe and in school. If the school board just considered a mandate of 30 days, he said, they would be very satisfied with the response from the community.

Assistant Superintendent Jarrod McCraw assured the school board that safety measures are in place at school.

The goal of UCPS throughout this pandemic has been to keep students and staff in our buildings and to make them healthy and safe,” McCraw said. “We have done that throughout this pandemic.”

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