OUR VIEW: Watching COVID-19 numbers closely as school nears

Published 11:30 am Friday, July 9, 2021

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A month from now our local students will be back in school. Yes, we know it’s hard to believe. Though the calendar doesn’t change, it feels like the months of June and July keep getting shorter every year. Maybe that’s because this summer was much sweeter, especially compared to last year.

We’re sure the Troup County School Board and other school system leaders are going to be paying close attention to the local COVID-19 numbers over the next few weeks. The COVID-19 numbers have been under control for the last few months, though it appears we’re seeing a slight increase around the Fourth of July.

On July 1 and July 6, Troup County had new COVID-19 cases in the double digits for the first time since April.

And while our COVID-19 vaccine numbers continue to rise, they aren’t going up fast enough. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 28 percent of residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine, and 25 percent have received both doses.

Experts warn that those low vaccination numbers in an area, such as Troup County, could create a breeding ground for virus variants.

With all of that data in mind, the school system will have to evaluate what safety measures will be in place for the 2021-2022 school year. Last year, masks were required for all students, but now (for the most part) vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, per CDC guidance.

Last year, it appeared spikes at schools last year trended along the same timeline as community spikes. Most of those occurred around holidays, meaning spread at schools was probably kept in check due to social distancing and masks.

Children 12 and up can receive the Pfizer vaccine. While we understand that’s a decision for each family to make, it’s obvious that the more kids who get vaccinated, the less likely there will be spread in our schools.

Perhaps the CDC will issue additional guidance for schools in the weeks ahead as well, which could help shape any local decisions. As this has been the whole time, it appears the key is to make a decision and then adjust as the information changes, something we think TCSS has excelled at throughout the pandemic.