White County School System officials recently discussed total COVID-19 case reports since classes resumed.
Speaking at the Sept. 22 Board of Education meeting, School Superintendent Dr. Laurie Burkett said the first month “has been very interesting and a very amazing start.”
Burkett said they are looking at state and county case data, along with their school staff and student data. They look at the seven-day moving average, and it showed a slight increase in the county at the end of August and beginning of September, but has started to move downward.
“I think that’s really good news for us to look at that,” Burkett said.
The superintendent said there has been a cumulative total of 14 school staff members out of 557 with confirmed positive cases since July, though there were no current cases among staff as of Sept. 21. When looking at staff data, the positive confirmed has remained consistent or decreased over the past few months.
Numbers have remained good for student data, Burkett said. As of Sept. 22, there were a cumulative total of 32 confirmed positive cases among students since school began Aug. 14, according to Cindy Free, the director of student improvement.
Confirmed cases were broken down by school: White County High School – 10, White County Middle School – 12, Jack P. Nix Elementary School – 5, Mossy Creek Elementary School – 1, Tesnatee Gap Elementary School – 2, Mt. Yonah Elementary School – 2.
The school system made several changes this year to battle the coronavirus and implemented a procedure to address when a positive case arises. Officials have been issuing weekly snapshots of COVID-19 cases and quarantine numbers for students and staff.
Burkett also told school board members the reason the figures will sometime show zero positive cases but will have quarantined students is because of how long students have to stay out.
“So why is it that we wouldn’t have a positive case, but kids are still out quarantined?” Burkett said. “I get that question a lot. So the answer to that is once you test positive, you are out for 10 days. A quarantine is 14 days. So the person who tests positive a lot of times is back before the person who had to quarantine because of direct exposure. You’re like how in the world does that make sense? Well because we’re not the medical experts, and the medical experts say you have a chance of developing symptoms from two to 14 days. So that’s the 14-day quarantine. A lot of times we’ll have zero positive cases, but we’ll still have some out quarantined.”
Burkett added that they expect the quarantine numbers to be higher at the middle school and high school because the students move around more for their classes. Despite that, she praised the job schools have done with seating charts and keeping track of students.
“I feel really good about our data,” Burkett said. “I feel really good about the processes we have in place. We haven’t seen a super spread kind of situation. That was kind of the fear for me in starting out … Our administrators are doing really an amazing job of contacting parents and going through the whole quarantine.”