Carter County Schools weighing learning options amid ‘slight’ COVID-19 spike in some schools

Keeping Schools Safe

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — In order to keep up with the ever-changing COVID-19 science, school officials in the Tri-Cities are meeting with health officials on a weekly basis.

News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun spoke with Carter County school officials about the recent uptick in the district.

An elementary school in the Carter County School district has closed down due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. School administrators are working to keep a second wave from hitting their students.

In recent weeks, multiple staff members at Cloudland Elementary School have tested positive for coronavirus, with some even in quarantine because someone in their household has tested positive.

“…We were having trouble getting all the classes covered. We decided to close that down through November. The students will come back on November 2nd. That Monday,” Director of Schools Tracy McAbee said.

Due to the unknown, school officials have been meeting on a weekly basis with the regional health department, showcasing data from top u.s. doctors, as well as comparing state and local numbers.

“They go over that type of data with us; positivity cases, the number of tests conducted to see if we’re doing enough to look at valid numbers. Does it look like the spread is done in the community or is it just translated into the schools,” he said.

McAbee said while this uptick is being described as “pretty low”, he says it’s too early to know if the cases are coming from within school doors or from the community.

“It looked like the data was tending to go in the direction of the community spread, and not necessarily an issue between the schools. Even though people at schools are showing up positive, it’s not necessarily that they caught it at school,” McAbee said.

As of Monday, Oct. 26, there were 11 staff and students in isolation and 79 staff and students in quarantine district-wide.

McAbee said: “The plan has always been to have flexibility of staff and students in that we can– if it’s contained in an area where we should, if it’s in a classroom we can close down a classroom. If it’s a school and it’s hard to coverage and all these types of things we can close down the school.”

If the district has to revert to virtual learning, officials are prepared.

He said, “We still have a few folk who don’t have high speed internet access, but for the most part, we’ve got devices out to folk and things like that, if we need a full district of remote learning again.”

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