N.C. Education Corps Provides Contact Tracers for WS/FCS
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
FEBRUARY 19, 2021 – Krystal Cox works as a contact tracer Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
When someone with the school system becomes infected with the coronavirus, Cox – or another contact tracer – will be called in to track down how the person may have been exposed and, in turn, who the person with coronavirus may have exposed.
“We try to investigate,” Cox said.
Her responsibilities also include passing along important information to the person who is ill and to others.
“It’s knowing exactly how the spread happens and the best things to do to keep everybody safe,” she said.
Cox was hired through the N. C. Education Corps (NCEC), which the N. C. State Board of Education and N.C. Office of the Governor established to provide school districts throughout the state with additional support services during these times.
“When I heard about the opportunity to join N.C. Education Corps, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Cox said.
“This pandemic has affected us all in some way, and this is an opportunity to help others while serving our community.”
In addition to contract tracers, N.C. Education Corps is providing WS/FCS with tutors at remote learning centers. After being hired by N.C. Education Corps, Cox and others participating in Corps programs took online trainings through both the Corps and WS/FCS.
“I have been fortunate to meet some great people through this program, both at N.C. Ed. Corps, and WS/FCS. I look forward to continuing to grow and learn from this team.”
“I definitely enjoy what I’m doing and all the people I work with.”
Since she began working in the field at the beginning of February, she has already learned a lot.
Jennifer Corso, who is the Director of School Nurses for WS/FCS, supervises the contract tracers in the school system.
Each school has a COVID coordinator. At one school, Cox said, it might be a teacher assistant. At another, it might be an assistant principal or guidance counselor. When the COVID coordinator learns that someone at the school has been infected, the coordinator types up a report and passes it on to Cox or another contact tracer.
Depending on the situation, one confirmed positive cane can lead to reaching out to a dozen more other people. She then reports back to the coordinator.
One day, Cox may be serving the school system in some other capacity.
Taking the job as the contact tracer is part of Cox’s shift in focus workwise.
After graduating from high school in Guilford County in 2003, Cox began working for Cooke Trucking Co. in Mount Airy.
She and her husband, Danny Cox, have three children – the oldest is 12 and the youngest is 3. The family lives in King.
Having children of her own and working in the children’s ministry at their church – Jefferson Christian Church in Rural Hall – she came to see that she wanted a career that would enable her to serve young people more directly.
So she enrolled in the School Age Education program at Forsyth Technical Community College. School Age Education covers the education of children from birth through sixth grade. An associate degree in the field prepares students to enter the education field as a paraprofessional in multiple ways, Cox said. As examples, she listed Teacher Assistant, tutor, before/after school care, daycare positions.
“Forsyth Tech offers a well-rounded approach of classroom learning and hands-on training in the field though observation and internships,” Cox said. “I am passionate about serving and helping others, and I feel the knowledge gained in this program will help me do that.”
While at Forsyth Tech, she served as a Student Ambassador for the 2019-2020 school year.
“In this role I was able to connect with students and guests of the campus through engagements such as campus tours, meet/greets, giveaway events, as well as professional development training.”
“Also, in my time at Forsyth Tech I was inducted as a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.”
Through her experiences in Forsyth County, she said, she came to fall in love with it.
“I got really engaged with Forsyth County,” Cox said.
After graduating from Forsyth Tech in May of 2020 with an associate degree, she headed to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the fall of 2020.
There, she is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies & the Humanities with the goal of working for WS/FCS.
To read the story about a N.C. Education Corps tutor working at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, go to Tutor.