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Callaway High School shut down for next three days due to COVID-19 concerns

Callaway High School will be shut down for the next three days due to the spread of COVID-19 at the school, according to Superintendent Brian Shumate.

Callaway High currently has five positive student cases and four positive staff cases, which has resulted in 103 student quarantines and 19 staff quarantines.

“We were concerned, obviously, yesterday afternoon. And then last night, we decided to go ahead and have school today because there weren’t any new cases yesterday evening,” Shumate said. “Today, we have one additional. We had somebody else that just didn’t feel well, so we just think at this point, it’s time to close down for three days, let the building rest and get it really cleaned, and then make a decision on Sunday, whether to open up on Monday.”

Troup County School System’s custodial services will be fogging the entire school prior to the re-opening of the building.

TCSS said it would make a decision by Sunday at 3 p.m. about whether or not Callaway High School will be back open on Monday. Even during the closure, students will be on a virtual learning model for the remainder of the week.

“All students will be learning virtually,” Shumate said. “We’re just making sure that all kids have their Chromebooks when they go home today. That also includes all athletics and co-curricular activities, which means any athletic activity will have to be rescheduled.”

That includes Callaway High School’s football game at Haralson County on Friday night, which will have to be rescheduled.

Shumate said his biggest concern is with faculty members, as the number in quarantine has made it difficult to fill all the gaps. However, he said some of the first quarantined teachers at Callaway will be able to return early next week, assuming they don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms that prevent that.

“The number should get better, if everything goes well,” Shumate said.

Shumate said two things might’ve contributed to the increased numbers. First, TCSS brought back around 1900 students on Tuesday. Those were students who originally registered for virtual classes but chose to return to the in-person classroom midway through the semester. The other factor might’ve been a professional learning day last Monday, which brought teachers together.

“We had a lot of adult interaction, which actually fostered a little bit of this,” Shumate said. “So that day, plus bringing back 1,920 kids on Tuesday probably exacerbate the situation to some extent.”

Shumate said TCSS has followed the same safety protocols all along and will continue to do so.

“That’s the way this thing works though, you just never know,” he said.

Callaway High is the second TCSS school to shut down in the last week, as Clearview Elementary was closed on Friday due to COVID-19 concerns among faculty members. The school was able to reopen on Monday.

“Clearview is stabilized. We are OK,” Shumate said. “I think we can make the same thing happen at Callaway if we give everybody a little time off.”

Shumate said substitute teachers have been used in a lot of cases when teachers are forced to miss time or be out due to quarantine, and substitutes have been “at a premium.” He said the substitute pool is a little down right now, plus the demand is higher.

However, he said quarantined teachers are still able to teach students from home, using the CANVAS online learning system.

Overall, TCSS as a whole has 12 confirmed student cases, 9 confirmed staff cases, according to an update to the school system’s COVID-19 dashboard updated Tuesday. TCSS said Tuesday there are 402 total students in quarantine and 43 staff members in quarantine. A large percentage of the student quarantines (26 percent) and staff quarantines (44 percent) come from Callaway High.

“We really appreciate everybody’s efforts and trying to stay safe. These things are sometimes out of our control,” Shumate said. “And I appreciate the support of all of our staff and the community and parents in trying to keep us open. We’re trying to do the right thing by the kids to get them the best educational services we can. We need everybody’s support as we navigate these waters going forward.”