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Columbia County schools confirm 3 COVID-19 cases

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 2:33 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Two days after students in the district returned to school, the Columbia County School District says they’ve confirmed three cases of COVID-19.

Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway says there has been one case at Harlem High School, one case at Lakeside High School, and a third case at another school they have not revealed yet because parents have not yet been informed.

The two students at Harlem and Lakeside are asymptomatic. One of the students was tested before a medical procedure and still came to school while waiting for results. The other was tested and still came to school as they waited for confirmation.

The third case, according to Carraway, is new.

”A parent just called in to say their child isn’t feeling well and went to the doctor and tested positive,“ Carraway said. “So, that would make three since school has begun.”

Per district policy, the asymptomatic students now have to wait at least 10 days since the date of the test to be allowed to return to school.

Parents who have students at Columbia County schools that have a positive case will receive a letter letting them know about the case. Those who need to quarantine will be told or allowed to return to school.

Carraway says that’s all part of the plan -- trying to maintain transparency while also protecting students’ health.

“Sadly, we are going to have cases of positive tests,” Carraway said. “We are going to have people who are exposed.”

Carraway says that’s why they have a public return to school plan and a host of forms and guidelines for parents and staff to follow.

“Of course we want to protect their identity, but at the same time we have to know if there were other students who may have been exposed,” Carraway said.

Positive cases or students with symptoms will be recorded daily and reported to the health department. A parent of a positive student completes a form and promises to keep their child at home for 10 days and 24 hours without symptoms. If a student is exposed, it’s 14 days of quarantine.

“Even if a middle school or high school student can’t come to school, they are still learning as long as they’re healthy and can do that,” Carraway said.

In a release this afternoon, the district urged parents to follow their guidelines and keep their children at home even while awaiting test results.

But how many cases is too many? There’s no hard guidelines from health officials, so Columbia County says it’s up to them.

“Our goal is to have school in a safe, healthy environment,” Carraway said. “Our threshold will be when we are no longer able to do that.”

As part of that response Wednesday afternoon, Columbia County reminded parents and students of their collective responsibility agreement, which is a pledge to follow the district’s back to school plan.

Carraway says cases in the school system and in Columbia County aren’t even close to warrant changes to their plans.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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