State officials are emphasizing the importance of vaccines and masking as tools to maintain in-person learning.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is urging K-12 schools to promote vaccinations and booster shots for all students and staff.
The department also says that indoor mask-wearing is key to keeping students in the classroom.
Officials say that excluding a student or staff member from school following a COVID-19 exposure should be a last resort.
The latest guidance from NCDHHS says a person exposed to COVID-19 can still attend school if they are up to date on vaccinations, if they have had a confirmed case within 90 days, or if masks were properly worn at the time of the exposure.
The department has also added a Test-To-Stay Option to further reduce absences in schools that require mask-wearing.
Under this scenario, the person exposed to COVID-19 should get tested the day they have been notified of the exposure. They should then get retested five days after the exposure, wear a mask in public settings for 10 days, and stay home when not in the classroom.
NCDHHS has incorporated these findings into its Public Health Toolkit.