DURHAM, N.C. — For the third year in a row, students are preparing to head to class while tackling COVID-19 concerns.

What You Need To Know

  • Durham Public Schools lead nurse Tricia Howard said the district is following COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health and Human Services

  • Howard said the district aims to bring as much normality back to this school year as possible while maintaining safety standards

  • Communication is key for parents to keep their children safe from COVID-19, Howard said

How schools handle COVID-19 may look different from previous years.

Tricia Howard, the lead nurse with Durham Public Schools, said this school year, the district is hoping to bring as much normalcy to students as possible while maintaining all safety standards.

“Durham Public Schools is now a mask recommended school district. We strongly recommend people mask indoors, continuing their handwashing practices,” Howard said.

Howard said the district stays in close contact with the local health department and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We rely heavily on them to advise us on the next steps so as we watch cases in Durham, we rely on them to pivot when necessary, but we are absolutely ready to make changes if we need to,” Howard said.

Howard said there are ways parents can help their children stay safe from COVID-19.

“In the community, if we could just give each other heads-up if someone is sick, to let someone know if someone is coming to their homes," Howard said. "One of the things that we dealt with over the past few years is the different things that happen in the community such as birthday parties and sleepovers that impacts a classroom or school.” 

“We all are just following the guidance of the health department and CDC and we just play it by ear, trying to watch the numbers and following whatever recommendations come to us," she said.