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RTL: Health & Safety

health and safety graphic on blackboard background

Positive Cases in Schools

Individuals who present symptoms at school will be sent home, with directions from public health officials. If a student is unable to leave the school immediately, they will be monitored away from other individuals in a privacy space until they are able to be picked up. Each school will have a privacy area, and both the student and the adult providing supervision in the privacy space must wear face coverings.

When there is a positive COVID-19 case in a school, HCPS will update the COVID-19 District Dashboard with school-affected positives each business day, and weekly quarantine numbers will be posted each Monday morning.

In an effort to streamline critical communications and school community announcements, daily alert call notifications for school-affected COVID-19 cases ceased Friday, October 22, 2021. Districtwide notifications for COVID-19 clusters will continue as required by law.

The Henderson County Department of Public Health is responsible for conducting contact tracing. Both the health department and HCPS will provide as transparent reporting as possible while still protecting confidentiality.

The health department will contact parents/guardians directly if their child is identified as having had close contact with a positive COVID case. The school district will not provide personally identifiable information of an infected person.

Families can reference this document, updated Oct. 22, 2021, for more details on “What to Expect When There is a COVID-19 Case in a School.” (English) (Spanish)

Graphic detailing what to expect when there is a COVID-19 case in a school. What HCPS and the Health Department will and will not do, by bullet point in Spanish

Face Coverings

Effective Monday, Nov. 29 after Henderson County Public Schools’ return from Thanksgiving break, students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 6 during instructional hours, through the end of December. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, face coverings will once again become optional in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 6.

This is a policy change to the Henderson County Board of Public Education’s Nov. 8 decision, which made face coverings optional in all indoor settings across all grade levels. This policy change does not affect Grades 7-12, where face coverings remain optional as they have been since Nov. 15.

This timeline will allow families who wish to have their elementary and 6th grade children receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine the opportunity to do so before January 1, since children ages 5-11 have only recently become eligible to receive the vaccine.

Face coverings are still required while traveling on buses and all other group transportation settings, per CDC Order. Face coverings are also still required in HCPS Child Care settings, per the Division of Child Development and Early Education with the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services. In these situations, face coverings will be provided by bus drivers or Child Care Services staff if a student does not have one of their own.


Parents/guardians of students who may be eligible for an exception should download and print the Face Covering Requirement Exception Request form, provide the requested information, including documentation and the signature of a licensed healthcare provider, and then return the form to their child’s school principal for review and approval.

Exception requests will be considered on a case by case basis for any student who should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability.

Cleaning & Hygiene

custodian using backpack sprayer on bus

School and district staff will follow prescribed cleaning and disinfecting recommendations, including:

  • Cleaning surfaces at least once a day, prioritizing high-touch areas
  • Daily spraying all classrooms with approved disinfectants
  • Sanitizing seats and other high-touch surfaces on school buses after morning and afternoon routes
  • Providing all classrooms with hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes

Teachers and other school staff will teach and reinforce proper sneezing hygiene, handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or the safe use of hand sanitizer.

Social Distancing

art classroom with desks spaced out

The requirement for 6 feet of social distancing was eliminated in the 2020-2021 school year when schools resumed fully in-person learning. Though no longer required, the current NCDHHS StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit recommends schools continue to maintain 3 feet of distance between students, to the greatest extent possible.

During lunchtime, schools will establish seating charts in the cafeterias where possible. If seating charts are not possible in specific school cafeteria areas, then either the cafeteria seating will be designated to ensure proper social distancing, students will eat in their classrooms, or they will be permitted to eat in outdoor settings.


Face Coverings

As of Monday, Nov. 15, visitors attending indoor athletic events are not required face coverings. The Henderson County Board of Public Education voted on Nov. 8 to make face coverings optional for all students, staff, and school visitors in all school settings, effective November 15.

Face coverings will still be required while traveling on buses or other group transportation settings, per the CDC Order. If a student does not have a face covering of their own, one will be provided to them by the school or bus driver.

Student-Athlete Quarantines

Quarantine guidance for student-athletes is based on recommendations from CDC, guidance from NCDHHS, and operational agreements among HCPS, the Henderson County Department of Public Health, and Pardee UNC Health Care Sports Medicine athletic trainers.

See the “Close Contact/Quarantine Guidance – Athletics” flowchart in English and Spanish here, and under “Infographics” on the R2L: Communications page.