Johnson County Schools to remain on in-person system, over 260 in quarantine due to COVID-19

Keeping Schools Safe

MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Johnson County Board of Education Tuesday decided to stick to the in-person learning system instead of making any changes, even though COVID-19 cases and those in quarantine continue to rise.

Johnson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mischelle Simcox told the board that there were no new COVID-19 cases Tuesday in the school system, however, 269 people are currently in quarantine due to COVID-19.

With 17 active coronavirus cases in a district of just over 2 ,000 students, the board felt it was unnecessary to change the learning protocol from the current in-person learning plan.

“Every case is a serious one, but out of our school system, there are only eight active cases among students – no new ones today – and there’s only nine active employee cases. So, it seems like you’re doing – I mean, you’re doing a good job of keeping everybody safe – but quarantine seems to be helping, I know it’s frustrating, but it seems to be helping,” said Board Chairman Howard Carlton.

Johnson County Schools COVID-19 Dashboard on Sept. 29, 2020

The Johnson County Schools COVID-19 Dashboard on Tuesday showed 17 active COVID-19 cases in the school system. Dr. Cox submitted the following data to the board:

Complete COVID-19 cases broken down for Sept. 29, 2020

The biggest takeaway Dr. Cox and Johnson County Schools Nurse Practitioner Wendy Henley got so far during the new school year, is that parents are growing more and more frustrated with their kids having to quarantine for 14 days after a possible COVID-19 exposure.

“Some of those are contact-traced students, so they would be out for 14 days, again, I know there’s been a lot of concern and frustration about that 14-days,” Dr. Simcox said. “some of these may just be showing signs of symptoms, you know, allergies, flu-like symptoms, and they may not be out 14 days, they may get to come back once those symptoms clear, it’s just those students who are sitting beside of someone that tested positive or close-contact.”

Henley informed the board that the concern regarding contact tracing isn’t just for the students, but faculty too.

“If it was a teacher who was put in isolation, we’re going by whoever’s desk or whatever was closest to them within the 6-foot, 15-minute timeframe,” she said. Unfortunately, depending how the teacher did that – in alphabetical order or whatever – then that’s where it falls.”

Dr. Simcox told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais that Henley and her staff are working from 6 a.m. through sometimes 10 p.m., seven days a week to keep up with contact tracing and extra manpower will be brought in soon.

“And then, we’ve not touched flu season, with the exact same symptoms,” Henley added.

The school system’s nurse practitioner said the biggest contributor to COVID-19 cases within the school system is from community spread linked to the local prison. She said those student household contacts are being continually monitored for the safety of every member of the school district.

The superintendent also announced at the meeting that the school district will be getting a mobile app and will soon begin streaming all Johnson County Schools sporting events online to promote social distancing.

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