Superintendent Weekly Update
from the desk of Kathy Amos
November 20, 2020
The two great philosophers, Shakespeare in the 1500’s to our modern day Nelson, remind us to forever have a thankful heart. I have numerous things I am thankful for in my life. My family, health, freedoms, work family, children, each of you and for being back home in these gorgeous mountains.
Next week as you count and reflect on your many blessings, tell those whom you are thankful for what a blessing they have been in your life.
Rejuvenate and safe travels as you enjoy those special moments with your family and friends.
Thank you to our child nutrition staff for the fantastic Thanksgiving dinner yesterday!
Reminders for how to keep yourself.....and others......SAFER
Mask breaks should be taken outside whenever possible and ensure all staff and students are maintaining 6 ft distance during this time.
Masks should be worn in the classrooms; shields are meant for short term use only.
Masks should be changed after 8 hours of use at a minimum and laundered between uses. If you need extra face masks, disposable face masks are available at all schools or reusable white cloth masks are available upon request from your school nurse.
Staff should report all illnesses to your administrator and Carla McMahan (682-6101 ext. 110), even if they are not COVID specific symptoms. If anyone in your household is sick with COVID symptoms or is going to be tested for COVID, please let your immediate supervisor know IMMEDIATELY and contact Carla McMahan for guidance.
Please stay home if you are not feeling well or someone in your family has COVID or is waiting on test results.
Plan A for elementary does not require 6 ft social distancing but if your classroom and instruction allows, please strive to maintain this distance when possible. This will decrease your exposures and reduce the chances of quarantines being required if a positive is identified in the classroom.
Eat in small groups or outside when possible. Please do not have large faculty and staff meals inside for the next several months. Individual box lunches should be prepared and no buffet style meals.
NCDHHS Rolls out Covid-19 County Alert System
While North Carolina is experiencing high levels of community transmission statewide, the virus is impacting some counties particularly hard.
To help local leaders understand how their county is faring and make decisions about actions to take, NCDHHS published a COVID-19 County Alert System today at 3PM. The COVID-19 County Alert System pinpoints counties with the highest levels of viral spread and offers specific recommendations for individuals, businesses, community organizations, and public officials to bring numbers down.
The COVID-19 County Alert System uses metrics informed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers:
- Yellow: Significant Community Spread
- Orange: Substantial Community Spread
- Red: Critical Community Spread
Because no one metric provides a complete picture, the COVID-19 County Alert System uses a combination of three metrics: case rate, the percent of tests that are positive, and hospital impact within the county. To be assigned to the red or orange tier, a county must meet the threshold for case rate for that tier AND the threshold for either percent positive OR hospital impact.
Counties will remain categorized in these tiers through at least the 2nd week of December. Going forward, NCDHHS will publish an updated COVID-19 County Alert System report the 2nd week of every month.
There are critical actions we can all take to slow the spread of COVID-19, regardless of whether your county is currently in the yellow, orange, or red tier. Individuals, businesses, community organizations, and public officials all have a responsibility to take these recommended actions, in addition to following the requirements in existing Executive Orders and NC DHHS guidance. Red and orange counties need to do even more to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities; it is strongly recommended these counties go further and build upon current requirements as recommended by the COVID-19 County Alert System.
What should schools/school districts do if they are in a county that is in the red or orange tier?
School leaders should continue to work with their local health departments to determine the best plan for their district and/or school. Schools may continue to stay open according to plans allowed by the State (as of November 17, elementary schools (K-5th) can open in Plan A and middle and high schools (9th – 12th) can open in Plan B). Strict adherence to the prevention strategies in the Strong Schools Toolkit is critically important. Additional information on CDC Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making, shared earlier this month during the NCDHHS schools update at the State Board of Education meeting, can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/indicators.html.
Updated COVID-19 Benefits for Testing and Treatment
(Members on 70/30, 80/20 & HDHP)
The State Health Plan has announced the following extensions for COVID-19 testing and treatment for members on the 70/30 Plan, 80/20 Plan and High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP):
- COVID-19 diagnostic testing and clinical screening visit will be covered at 100% until the federal CARES Act is lifted.
- Cost associated with the treatment (medical only) of COVID-19 has been extended until March 31, 2021. Any medications prescribed to treat COVID-19 will be subject to the copay/coinsurance.
- Prior authorizations for COVID-19 acute inpatient medical and certain services have been extended to March 31, 2021.
- As a reminder, many providers continue to offer tele-health or virtual visits. These types of visits continue to be covered under your Plan benefits and this will remain in effect until June 30, 2021. The applicable copay for a Primary Care Provider office visit will apply. If you are outside of North Carolina, please confirm with your provider as each state may have different rules regarding tele-health services.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has recently provided guidance for those planning to travel or attend family gatherings over the holidays. This guidance includes having a screening COVID-19 test prior to travel or attending family gatherings. Through December 31, 2020, the Plan will cover COVID-19 tests without a provider’s order and as previously mentioned, there will be no charge for the test.
For members on the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Plans, please refer to the Plan’s website or UHC for updated COVID-related coverage.
Important Post-Open Enrollment Reminders
All members will be receiving a new ID card in the mail in December regardless of the actions you took during Open Enrollment.
As a reminder, January 2021 premiums will be deducted from your December paycheck or pension.
Also, if during Open Enrollment you selected that you were a tobacco user but willing to visit a CVS MinuteClinic or a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for tobacco cessation counseling, you have until November 30, 2020, to complete at least one tobacco cessation counseling, or risk losing your premium credit. The subscriber must present their State Health Plan ID card in order for the visit to be covered at 100 percent by the Plan. It’s also important to visit the Plan’s website and print off instructions for your provider to ensure your tobacco attestation counseling session is FREE and is billed correctly.
In addition, CVS MinuteClinic is now able to conduct virtual tobacco attestation counseling sessions in North Carolina! Subscribers interested in this service should click here to request a virtual session.
Thanks to all of you who participated in Open Enrollment. More than 334,913 subscribers took action!