Masks at school still optional as COVID cases rise; Hollis Hand Elementary at risk

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

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Like the county as a whole, the Troup County School System is starting to see COVID-19 cases rise in the schools, though not yet to the point where masks have to go back on.

Superintendent Brian Shumate said during Monday night’s school board work session that the school system had 14 students and nine faculty members with positive COVID-19 cases. Hollis Hand was up to five total cases — up from three Friday — and was the school closest to the 1% threshold that would require masks to go back on.

TCSS updated its mask policy in October so that masks go back on when cases go above 1% of the student population in a school. So far, no school has reached that point, so masks remain optional systemwide.

Shumate said this rise in cases is not unique to Troup County, but that it is a national issue that the school board hopes to address.

“That’s what’s happening right now in the entire world. I think we’re doing pretty well overall,” Shumate said.

Shumate noted Hollis Hand Elementary as a potential school where masks may need to be required again.

“We’ve got Hollis Hand right now with just over 600 kids I believe and five positive student cases. All they need is two more,” he said, noting the school’s student population of over 600.

Shumate reaffirmed his position on COVID and said that schools will be required to wear masks if they have a certain amount of cases.

“If you have five hundred kids and you get to five kids or more, then you have to put the mask back on,” Shumate said. “If you have 550 kids, it will be six kids or more. We round up. Likewise, we won’t take them back off until you come down to a half percent. So if you have 550 students, it takes six kids [to] put them back on [and] it’s going to take three or less to take them back off.”

TCSS will be out for Christmas break after Friday.