Students and teachers won’t have daily COVID screenings in this NC school district

T. Keung Hui
·3 min read

Johnston County students and school employees will soon no longer have to have their temperatures checked and answer questions about how they’re feeling to be allowed inside school buildings.

The Johnston County school system will stop doing the daily temperature checks and symptom screenings starting on April 5 for school employees and April 12 for students when they return from spring break. The change is being made after the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it will no longer require the daily COVID-19 screenings.

“Families and staff should conduct daily home-based symptom screenings prior to coming to school or work,” the district announced Monday. “Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 or a fever of 100.4 Fahrenheit or higher should not report to their school or a JCPS site.

“We ask that you continue to report the presence of fever and/or COVID-19 symptoms to your child’s school or your building’s administrator.”

Screenings were added due to COVID

The daily screenings had been required this school year to try to identify people who may have the coronavirus. The screening requirement is being dropped as the number of students getting in-person instruction will rise over the next few weeks.

Starting April 12, Johnston County middle and high school students will begin getting four days a week of in-person classes. They’ll join elementary students who are already getting four days a week of in-person instruction.

During the screenings, people answer questions such as whether they have a fever or cough. If they answer yes or have a temperature of 100.4 or higher, they could be sent home.

Parents have been asked to stay with their children in the carpool lane, which has slowed down the arrival of students.

A student at Princeton Elementary School has his temperature checked in the drop-off lane Monday morning, Feb. 1, 2021, in Princeton, NC. Despite lobbying from some teachers to stay with remote instruction, Johnston students across all grade levels showed up Monday for their first day of in-person classes since Dec. 14.
A student at Princeton Elementary School has his temperature checked in the drop-off lane Monday morning, Feb. 1, 2021, in Princeton, NC. Despite lobbying from some teachers to stay with remote instruction, Johnston students across all grade levels showed up Monday for their first day of in-person classes since Dec. 14.

But now DHHS says the daily checks are no longer recommended or required for K-12 students. Daily checks are optional for school staff.

Schools will still follow other safety protocols, such as requiring students, school employees and visitors to wear face masks on campus. Even though social distancing requirements are minimal now, students are being asked to try to maintain distance when possible.

Will other schools drop screenings?

Other North Carolina school districts may emulate the decision made by Johnston County, which is the state’s 7th-largest district with 36,000 students.

“We are currently still conducting health screenings,” Lisa Luten, a Wake County school spokesman, said Tuesday. “We are looking at the revised guidance from NCDPI to determine how it would change our own procedures.

“We will have additional information to share after spring break.“

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system is still doing the screenings, but that may change, according to Jeff Nash, a district spokesman.

Some districts are continuing the screenings even if they’re no longer required.

“Durham Public Schools does not have plans at this time to stop COVID-19 screenings of students, staff members or parents prior to arrival at schools or any district facilities,” said Casey Watson, a district spokeswoman. “The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and this practice will continue in order to keep our DPS community safe.”