A total of 925 students and staff members have been told to quarantine after a school district in Georgia reopened amid the novel coronavirus pandemic last week.
In a statement posted online on Tuesday, Superintendent of Cherokee County School District Dr. Brian V. Hightower said since schools reopened on Aug. 3, 59 staff and students have tested positive for COVID-19.
Cherokee County is the largest school district in Georgia that’s currently offering face-to-face classes.
“We are not hesitating to quarantine students and staff who had had possible exposure,” the statement reads, “even if the positive test was prompted by possible exposure rather than symptoms, as all positive cases can lead to the infection of others.”
Hightower said as a result of the outbreak, one school — Etowah High School — is now closed.
“It is our hope to restart in-person classes at Etowah High School on Monday, Aug. 31,” the statement said. “This decision was not made lightly; it was made with the support of School Board Members, and was determined, as all of our quarantine decisions are made, in consideration with the Department of Public Health.”
According to Hightower, by Tuesday morning, Etowah High School had recorded a total of 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with tests for another 15 students still pending.
“294 students and staff are under quarantine and, should the pending tests prove positive, that total would increase dramatically,” Hightower said.
The superintendent said once a case of the virus is confirmed, contact tracing is conducted and parents are notified.
Quarantined students will take classes online, and the building will be deep-cleaned before it is re-opened, Hightower said.
Cherokee County parent Miranda Wickert told The Associated Press she has withdrawn her two children, opting to homeschool them this year in search of stability.
She said the wave of quarantines are proving her fear correct that there would be waves of openings and closings.
“I just don’t know this is sustainable,” she said. “I don’t know how this is equitable, this constant in and out of school.”
Since the pandemic began, Georgia has seen a total of 226,153 cases of COVID-19, according to data from the state’s Department of Public Health.
So far the virus has claimed 4,456 lives in Georgia. Three of those who died were under the age of 20.
On Wednesday, health officials in Georgia reported 3,660 new cases of COVID-19 and 190 new deaths.
Cases surge among U.S. children
What’s more, a report released earlier this week analyzing state data found at least 97,000 U.S. children tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the last two weeks of July.
The study, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, said the increase marks a 40 per cent surge in the country’s cumulative total of cases of COVID-19 in children.
According to the report, since the pandemic began, 338,982 children across 49 states have tested positive for the virus.
These cases account for a total of 8.8 per cent of COVID-19 infections in the U.S.
But when asked about the survey on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump said children “do very well” when infected with COVID-19.
“They don’t catch it easily, they don’t get very sick and according to the people I’ve spoken to they don’t transport it or transfer it to other people or certainly not very easily,” Trump said.
Ultimately, he said schools “have to open.”
“We want to get our economy going,” he said.
The United States remained the epicentre of the pandemic on Wednesday, with more than 5.1 million confirmed cases of the virus, according to a tally from John’s Hopkins University.
Since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December, it has killed 165,831 people in the U.S.
— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun and The Associated PressView link »