Troup, Harris, Heard, Chambers County School Districts all seeing increases in COVID-19 cases among students

Published 3:46 pm Friday, August 20, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Area school systems continue to do their best to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, all with different guidelines and regulations meant to keep students safe.

The Troup County School System, with a mask mandate for all students, has a total of 171 student cases and 28 employee cases. There are 689 TCSS students in quarantine and eight employees in quarantine. TCSS has 12,057 students enrolled, so roughly 1.4% have COVID-19.

“As I have said many times, the new rules with the masks have allowed us to quarantine much less people,” said Superintendent Brian Shumate at Thursday night’s school board meeting. “Or we would be in not as good of shape as we are right now.”

Students are not being asked to quarantine if they are in close contact with someone and both are wearing masks and have no symptoms. Shumate said that lunch has been the biggest issue, as students take off their masks to eat, and that’s the time of day causing students to quarantine.

Earlier this week, TCSS announced the closure of three schools for two days on Thursday and Friday, with a decision to be made Sunday about school on Monday. Long Cane Elementary, Long Cane Middle and Rosemont Elementary were closed due to an increase in cases.

“There is no magic number,” Shumate said of when to shut down a school. “If you have one case a day over 10 days and you have 10 cases and they are all spread around the building, that’s not that big of a deal. It’s when you have concentrations and it spirals quickly, when it goes from four to ten to 16 in 24 hours. That’s when you start worrying. That’s the situation we got into with those two schools, and overnight Tuesday we found out Rosemont had a similar situation.”

Unlike last year, when spread in the schools was mitigated, it appears the Delta variant is spreading much easily among students.

“We started noticing numbers in concentrated areas in our buildings, and we started to be able to see the connection between kids [having] positive cases, which we never saw last year,” said Long Cane Elementary School Principal Katie Brown at Thursday night’s board meeting. “We never saw it spread within the kids, and this year it is spreading very quickly. I think these couple of days and the weekend will help us see what other cases pop up, and if they do pop up, they aren’t impacting other kids in our building.”

As of Friday, Long Cane Middle had 31 student cases and three staff cases of COVID-19. There were 93 students in quarantine and two staff members in quarantine. LCMS had 18 cases when the decision was made to shut down school, so 13 new cases have come in since then.

On Friday, Long Cane Elementary had 20 student cases and five staff cases and 93 students in quarantine and zero staff members quarantined.  That’s an increase of five cases since the decision was made to close school.

Rosemont had 16 COVID-19 student cases and four staff cases on Friday. There were also 47 students in quarantine and zero staff members quarantined. Rosemont has also added five cases since the decision was made to close school.

Three other TCSS schools currently have double digit cases in students — Callaway High (19), Troup High (11) and Callaway Middle (10).

Other area school systems are adjusting as well.

As of Friday, Heard County currently has 49 students with a positive case of COVID-19 out of 2,196 total students. Heard County does not have a mask requirement for students on school buses or in schools, according to guidelines on the school system’s website. A little over 2% of Heard County students have an active COVID-19 case.

Another HCSS 227 students are in quarantine for possible exposure. Two staff members out of 283 currently have a positive case of COVID-19 and 7 have been quarantined for possible exposure, per the latest numbers from HCSS posted on Friday.

“We have completed 11 days of school as of August 19th and things have been trending in a negative direction,” said Heard County Superintendent Rodney Kay “We are in constant communication with our Board of Education, and we will make adjustments as needed. Our community understands that if we are going to have a successful school year we will need to be very adaptable to change!”

On Monday, the Harris County School System changed its guidelines to require masks due to 389 students being in quarantine at that time.

The last numbers released for Harris County were released Tuesday and show 59 active student cases of COVID-19 and seven active employee cases. There were 447 students in quarantine and three employees in quarantine. There are 5,634 total students in the Harris County School System, so about 1% of students had a positive case of COVID-19.

The Chambers County School District in Alabama releases new numbers on a weekly basis. Since Friday, Aug. 13, 36 students and 12 employees in the Chambers County School District tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, 50 students and employees were quarantined due to close contact with an individual(s) who had tested positive for the virus. CCSD is requiring masks for all students.

“We are requesting notification from a parent of any student who tests positive. They can simply call the child’s school and ask to speak with the school nurse,” said CCSD Lead Nurse Loretta Cofield via a press release. “Furthermore, parents should keep their children home if they are sick.”

The Lee County School System in Alabama, also on the state line, announced Friday that it was mandating masks for students after 193 cases, per media reports.