Moms of football players know to not mess around with their son’s dream of playing on game day. But imagine if your son’s school was forcing your son to miss school over a false positive COVID test so that he couldn’t even attend the weekly football game. Terrible, right?
Imagine if the school then, forced to let the student back in, had screwed up his hard-earned grades, so he was benched on game night. How many of us know how turbulent a young man’s emotions would quickly turn then?
That has happened for one North Carolina Mom, a member of Wake County Moms 4 Liberty. She stayed focused on winning for her son throughout the school’s fumbles and screw-ups.
“You just do not mess around with my kids like that,” Wendy Runyon, mom of two boys and resident of Wake County, North Carolina told me, (a fellow football mom). Football Momma bears are about the most dangerous of all Moms, trust us, and we will fight for our children’s football dreams.
She was relentless.
“If the science is always changing, then the school’s tool kits needs to be changing too and here is how I made them do just that,” said Mom on a Mission, Runyon.
FALSE-POSITIVE TESTS MEANS YOU CAN’T PLAY FOOTBALL
“My son had to miss one game because he was under 10 day quarantine from one COVID test, and then he had to miss a second game because the teacher was entering zeros for his grades while he was gone, so his grade was destroyed. He is an honor student and went from an A to a D in autonomy. And this all started with a COVID test that he took voluntarily out of respect for his team when he had a sinus headache,” she said.
“Remember my son had one test that was a false positive! I proved it was a false positive with three other tests, and I was told that was just too bad, my child could not return to school for 10 days no matter what any other tests showed,” she told me.
“I even had a doctor examine him and draw his blood to show he did not have COVID. That medical doctor recommend that the school allow him back in and I was told no by the principal,” Runyon told me. “These school officials are not medical doctors. No one at the health department would answer my calls, no one at the school knew what to do. I was so angry,” she told me. “There was so much chaos and confusion and no one was giving me any guidance.”
“I posted about my experience on Facebook and someone who read my posts introduced me to a woman who does some activism on this topic with a local parent’s advocacy group called The Table Project. That woman recommended I attend the Board of Commisioners meeting that week with their group. So, I went and told my story,” Runyon said.
“At that meeting, after speaking, I met a woman who told me she could help me, and gave me a contact at the Health Department, who explained to me what to tell my local school. I then attended a school board meeting on Tuesday, and when I posted about that experience, I was contacted by a neighbor who helped me craft an email with citations from North Carolina law and combined with the information I had from the Health Department, and the medical notes, I got my son back to school,” Runyon said. And since her son is back in school, his grades have been restored in time for the last game of the season. Mission accomplished, Mom.
Within a short amount of time of sending her email- she received an email back that read:
Mr. and Mrs. Runyon:
I have received a message that the Wake County Health & Human Services Department and WCPSS Health Services Team has met to review D’s case based on all the information presented related to his positive test results and subsequent negative results. The joint team has determined that D is either no longer contagious or did receive a false-positive result. Therefore his isolation time from Millbrook High School has been lifted, and D may return to school on Friday, October 22. Please encourage D to keep working with his teachers on any academic work that he was not able to complete. Thank you for your patience in this process.
Please delete the quarantine absence code (1D) for Friday, October 22, so that D’s teachers will recognize his return to school has been approved.
Thank you for your patience in this process and we are looking forward to having D back in school.
Student Support Services
HERE IS HER JOURNEY STARTING AT THE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING
After all of the medical testing, and meeting local activists who guided her, these are the steps she took.
Step one: She attended the Wake County Commissioners Meeting and got connected to someone at the NC Health Department. She found out the official policy for schools from the source.
Step two: She attended a School Board meeting. You can see her at the following video at 1:20:30:
Step Three: She found out about the laws from experienced activists in another local advocacy group whose work is on a website called NCC4CR.
10A NCAC 41A .0210 DUTIES OF ATTENDING PHYSICIANS
Immediately upon making a diagnosis of or reasonably suspecting a communicable disease or communicable condition for which control measures are provided in Rule .0201, .0202 or .0203 of this Section, the attending physician shall instruct the patient and any other person specified in those control measures to carry out those control measures and shall give sufficiently detailed instructions for proper compliance, or the physician shall request the local health director to give such instruction. When making the initial telephone report for diseases and conditions required to be reported within 24 hours, the physician shall inform the local health director of the control measures given.
§ 130A-145. Quarantine and isolation authority.
(a) The State Health Director and a local health director are empowered to exercise quarantine and isolation authority. Quarantine and isolation authority shall be exercised only when and so long as the public health is endangered, all other reasonable means for correcting the problem have been exhausted, and no less restrictive alternative exists.
§ 130A-144. Investigation and control measures.
(a) The local health director shall investigate, as required by the Commission, cases of communicable diseases and communicable conditions reported to the local health director pursuant to this Article.
(b) Physicians, persons in charge of medical facilities or laboratories, and other persons shall, upon request and proper identification, permit a local health director or the State Health Director to examine, review, and obtain a copy of medical or other records in their possession or under their control which the State Health Director or a local health director determines pertain to the (i) diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a communicable disease or communicable condition for a person infected, exposed, or reasonably suspected of being infected or exposed to such a disease or condition, or (ii) the investigation of a known or reasonably suspected outbreak of a communicable disease or communicable condition.
(c) A physician or a person in charge of a medical facility or laboratory who permits examination, review or copying of medical records pursuant to subsection (b) shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability that otherwise might be incurred or imposed as a result of complying with a request made pursuant to subsection (b).
(d) The attending physician shall give control measures prescribed by the Commission to a patient with a communicable disease or communicable condition and to patients reasonably suspected of being infected or exposed to such a disease or condition. The physician shall also give control measures to other individuals as required by rules adopted by the Commission.
(e) The local health director shall ensure that control measures prescribed by the Commission have been given to prevent the spread of all reportable communicable diseases or communicable conditions and any other communicable disease or communicable condition that represents a significant threat to the public health. The local health department shall provide, at no cost to the patient, the examination and treatment for tuberculosis disease and infection and for sexually transmitted diseases designated by the Commission.
(f) All persons shall comply with control measures, including submission to examinations and tests, prescribed by the Commission subject to the limitations of G.S. 130A-148.
(g) The Commission shall adopt rules that prescribe control measures for communicable diseases and conditions subject to the limitations of G.S. 130A-148. Temporary rules prescribing control measures for communicable diseases and conditions shall be adopted pursuant to G.S. 150B-13.
(h) Anyone who assists in an inquiry or investigation conducted by the State Health Director for the purpose of evaluating the risk of transmission of HIV or Hepatitis B from an infected health care worker to patients, or who serves on an expert panel established by the State Health Director for that purpose, shall be immune from civil liability that otherwise might be incurred or imposed for any acts or omissions which result from such assistance or service, provided that the person acts in good faith and the acts or omissions do not amount to gross negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, or intentional wrongdoing. This qualified immunity does not apply to acts or omissions which occur with respect to the operation of a motor vehicle. Nothing in this subsection provides immunity from liability for a violation of G.S. 130A-143. (1893, c. 214, s. 16; Rev., s. 4459; 1909, c. 793, s. 8; C.S., s. 7158; 1957, c. 1357, s. 1; 1973, c. 476, s. 128; 1983, c. 891, s. 2; 1987, c. 782, s. 14; 1991, c. 225, s. 1; 1995, c. 228, s. 1; 2001-28, s. 2; 2004-80, s. 6; 2009-501, s. 2.)
Step Four: She sent an email to everyone she could find an address for in Wake Co. Public Schools and to everyone she had met along the way of her journey. Activists, Commissioners, Health Department workers, School employees, all who helped her.
This is what she wrote:
Good evening. I am writing today regarding the unfair quarantining of my healthy children. Today my two sons completed their 6th day of quarantine and I have still not had my questions answered. My healthy kids are being denied public instruction.
My oldest child, and honor student at Millbrook High School voluntarily took 5 COVID tests as well as an antibody test in one week. His only covid symptom was a mild headache for 45 minutes last Tuesday. He expressed a desire to test, voluntarily, so as not to unintentionally infect his teammates. That original test came back as “detected.” 3 of the last 4 tests were negative in addition to a negative antibody test. Also, he has a doctor’s order stating that he does not have COVID19 and can return to school. The school system tells me to contact the health department which I have done countless times but to no avail. After attending the Board of Commissioner’s meeting on Monday to address my concerns, Dr. Mushonga contacted me on Tuesday to discuss the situation. She explained that it is up to the principals of each school to determine when the student may return to school with a doctors note stating an alternate diagnosis, according to the current toolkit.
I asked Dr. Mushonga if I could share her name and contact information with our high school principal (Dana King, Millbrook High). She stated that I could. I then relayed that information to Ms. King. Today, I have called multiple times and tried to stop by the school. I received an email at 3:19 this pm explaining that the area superintendent, Mr. McCabe, was very clear that the principal could not override policies and procedures established by the board.
I am confused as to what policy he is referring to as being overridden. The toolkit clearly states under return to school protocols that a student may return to school with an alternate diagnosis other than COVID19, from a medical doctor. I have provided the school with that documentation.
I have included some NC statutes regarding quarantine and control measures. I am extremely disappointed that no one appears to be concerned about my children and their education. My oldest son now has a 55 in Anatomy class because 0’s have been logged as placeholders for missing work. The teacher has the work but has yet to grade the work. This grade makes him ineligible to play in his next game. He has already missed one last Thursday and will miss one tomorrow. My child is healthy and has a doctor’s order.
To be honest, I cannot blame the school principals. Why is the health department putting the burden on schools when that it is not their area of expertise? Why is the health department not communicating to each principal in the county that the ultimate decision lies with them?
I am aware that each student is required to quarantine must have an order written by the state health department. When I asked Jose Cabanas about this and why I have not received one for either child he stated they didn’t do that anymore. When I brought this up to Ms. King she stated that the school had not received one either.
I received Ms. King’s decision today after meeting with Mr. McCabe. However, I do not understand this decision. If the toolkit says my child can return to school with a doctor’s note why then is the area superintendent and the principal interpreting the toolkit in a way other than exactly how it reads?
Regarding the statutes and policies, could someone please provide me with the board policy that the area superintendent is referring to? Also, based on the statutes below, why does my child’s doctor, the medical expert, not have the authority to determine the control measures for my child?
AND JUST LIKE THAT- TOUCHDOWN!
You have never seen anyone tackle anything – like a Football “Momma Bear” will take down- to make sure her son gets to be some part of the team for the last game of the season. Please share this article with anyone who needs some inspiration to see that our system still works when you know the steps to take.
*Momma Bear* thing is optional.