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COVID-19 update: Cases in TCSS decline, hundreds of previously quarantined students return to classrooms

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Troup County School System has declined since last week.

TCSS currently has six students with a confirmed case of COVID-19, according to a Friday afternoon update from the school system. Last Friday, Aug. 28, there were 15 students with confirmed positive cases.

Friday’s update also said that there were zero staff members with a confirmed positive case. Last week, there was one.

The number of students in quarantine also drastically decreased, going from 317 last week to 214 on Friday. Staff members in quarantine decreased from 20 to nine.

“The numbers have improved, and that’s good news,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate.

Shumate said students can be quarantined for three reasons — they test positive, have had direct contact with someone who is a positive case or if they are symptomatic. Even if students test negative, nurses have the ability to send them home due to their symptoms for 10 days, Shumate said.

TCSS is following health department and Center for Disease Control guidelines. The CDC recommendations say that students and staff members with a suspected case of COVID-19 should self-isolate until it’s been 10 days since symptoms first appeared.

“Many of these kids of the 214 have been sent home by nurses because they are symptomatic. What they say is, we can’t guarantee, even if they have a negative test, you can’t guarantee they’re not a carrier,” Shumate said. “Honestly that might be helping us, meaning that we’re better off sending symptomatic kids home.”

Of last week’s 317 quarantined students, 213 returned to the classroom this week after finishing their quarantine period. All twenty staff members who were quarantined as of last Friday have also returned.

Another 104 students quarantined last week are still in the midst of their quarantine period, and 110 more had to start quarantining this week.

Overall, that means TCSS had more students return (213) than students enter quarantine (110) this week.

“More kids came out of quarantine than went in,” Shumate said. “[We’re not seeing] major outbreaks. We’re handling it on a case-by-case basis. Our kids are doing great with masks and hand sanitizer.”

Right around 40 percent of TCSS students remain in the Troup County School System Virtual Academy, Shumate said.

The TCSS update said that 19 schools or departments have been impacted by COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that they have a positive case. It could mean that the school or department has someone in quarantine due to direct contact or displaying symptoms.

Those 19 schools and departments impacted are Berta Weathersbee Elementary, Callaway Elementary, Clearview Elementary, Ethel Kight Elementary, Franklin Forest Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Hogansville Elementary, Hollis Hand Elementary, Long Cane Elementary, Rosemont Elementary, West Point Elementary, Callaway Middle, Gardner Newman Middle, Long Cane Middle, Callaway High, LaGrange High, Troup County Career Center, Troup High and THINC Academy.

Shumate said the number of facilities impacted might look alarming, but it’s actually better that cases are spread out and not all in a few locations.

“We’re glad that our situations are spread out across the county and not concentrated,” Shumate said.