Just a week after schools reopened in a northern Georgia school district, more than 800 students and staff were asked to quarantine.
Last week, the Cherokee County School District, about 44 miles north of Atlanta, told 20 people to quarantine when one of the 2 class students tested positive for the virus after the first day of school. That number increased rapidly and as of Monday night, the school ordered 826 students quarantined due to possible exposure, according to a list the district has developed.
The district has 42,000 students listed about 40 cases in 19 elementary, middle, and high schools, but it is not clear whether all of them were coronavirus positive or some schools. These include those who have had recent contact with an infected student or staff member.
The district routinely tracks contacts to determine who may have been exposed to people who test positive for the virus, according to WXIA, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta.
A female spokeswoman said in a statement on Tuesday that the district predicted before schools reopened that “positive tests between students and staff could occur.”
That’s why we put in place a system to quickly contact follow-up, request quarantine, notify parents and report cases and quarantine to the entire community, spokesman Barbara Jacoby said. “We do not hesitate to isolate students and staff who may have contact with a student or staff who has a positive test result.”
Cherokee County schools recommend but do not require students or staff to wear masks.
After a photo went viral last week of several students not wearing masks standing shoulder to shoulder, District Superintendent Brian V. Hightower wrote a letter to parents saying the photo did not show many students in school district wearing a face veil.
Hightower wrote: “Photographs of groups of seniors taken outside before school at some of our facilities raised concerns that such students may not be aware of the importance of masks. . “After investigation, we know many people wear masks regularly, but we must continue to remind all students of the importance of masks when they cannot be out of society.”
Hightower also said in his notes to families last week that he is unsure how long the district will be able to keep schools open in the face of a pandemic.
“The answer will depend on all of us as a community,” he wrote.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said during a press conference on Monday that he is delighted with schools reopening across the state.
“I really think this week went well beyond a few” viral pictures, “the governor said.
Hilary Porterfield, a parent of a student at Cherokee School, told NBC News last week that she was “disappointed” at how the coronavirus pandemic is being handled. Positive cases, she said, would be the “red flag” for the district.
“It was only a matter of time before it got out of hand,” she said.
Blayne Alexander contributed.