Nelson’s 13-year-old daughter Ellie was the first to test positive for COVID-19. It happened about two weeks after school started. Soon, Ellie started showing symptoms.”Really tired, trouble breathing. She can’t even sit up to do work,” Nelson recalled.
Ellie has asthma. Her symptoms continued to get worse until her mother decided to take her to the hospital.
Nelson said she feels Ellie caught COVID-19 at school. “I think the school is responsible, because she didn’t catch it at home. She went from the bus to school. The school is a second home to the kids.”
Ellie’s twin, Emily also ended up testing positive for COVID-19. She’s learning virtually but tested positive shortly after her sister brought the virus home.
Nelson said going to school made both her daughters sick, and even put one of them in the hospital. She took her concerns to the school but she didn’t find it helpful.
“I actually went to the school and spoke to the vice principal about it, and she was basically saying that she couldn’t do anything. It was on the Board of Education,” Nelson said.
Attorney Noel Harlow with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin said parents and employees of school systems, public and private do have rights.
“If they aren’t following CDC, they are not following well documented, WHO, DHHS guidelines, then they will be held accountable and you should consider calling OSHA,” Harlow explained.
She also recommends you take pictures, videos, and keep records of any communication you have about your concerns. Before filing a complaint with OSHA or the Department of Labor, Harlow recommends you talk to the school’s administration.
“Of course there are no guarantees right now because we’re in a pandemic, but they are required by law to make sure they’re doing everything they can to keep us safe.”
According to OSHA records, there are more than a dozen complaints filed against NC school systems involving COVID-19 concerns. Several complaints allege the school systems allowed staff who tested positive for the virus to continue working, other complaints involved cleaning agents that staff used in the classroom, and employees allege they didn’t receive proper training on usage. All cases were closed without action.
As for any legal recourse when it comes to COVID concerns, Harlow said there would have to be gross negligence, and proof that school systems recklessly disregarded COVID guidelines.
When it comes to Emily and Ellie, Nelson says her twin daughters beat COVID and appear to be bouncing back. She adds she is not taking any chances and both girls will stay at home to learn virtually.
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