COVID-19 cases won’t change back-to-school plans in Columbia County

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 6:00 AM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Three coronavirus cases in the first three days of classes won’t change plans for the start of the school year in Columbia County, officials say. 

Parents received letters on the cases at three different campuses in the Columbia County School District — and whether their child needs to be quarantined or can go back to school.

According to Superintendent Sandra Carraway, three students have tested positive for COVID-19. one case is at Lakeside High School and one is at Harlem High. Officials haven’t confirmed what school the third student goes to.

We’re told that two of those students were at school this week while still waiting for test results.

Carraway says the cases won’t be changing the district’s plans.

“Sadly, we are going to have cases of positive tests. We are going to have people who are exposed,” she said. “Our goal is to have school in a safe, healthy environment. Our threshold will be when we are no longer able to do that.”

District officials say positive cases for students with symptoms will be recorded daily.

Parents of infected students must complete a form promising to keep their child at home for 10 days. The kids also have to be symptom free for 24 hours before coming back to school.

If your child is exposed, they will have to quarantine for 14 days.

But Carraway says that shouldn't stop your child from learning.

“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,” she said.

The cases are popping up despite the safety protocols that have been put in place.

For example, middle and high school students in Columbia County are required to wear face coverings in the hallways when changing classes.

But the routine isn’t required for kids in elementary school.

In Aiken County, students must wear masks in common areas, but officials say young kids aren’t in those crowded areas as much.

Richmond County officials say they are not going to enforce mask wearing — but officials said plans are still being finalized before kids come back to class Sept. 8.

One local elementary parent says kids just won't keep masks on.

“I don’t really see them being able to keep it on for any length of time. ... In a perfect world, like I said, they wear them, and it would work, but I just don’t see it happening that way,” said Amber Porterfield, a third-grade mom.

Some parents agree it’s just simply unrealistic for children to wear masks for long periods — a reason some decided to go with the learn-from-home option.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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