CSRA school districts in a tough position during COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re hearing about new COVID-19 cases almost every day in local schools.

We’ve confirmed Tuesday that Grovetown Middle School and Grovetown High School now each have at least one positive case. That means all five Columbia County high schools have had a case.

But we’re still hearing from a lot of you about other possible cases.

We’re working to confirm them, but officials at the Columbia County School District are trying to manage their students’ and teachers’ privacy, too.

School districts are in a tough position. Parents want to know what’s going on around their children, but it’s not as easy as just telling everyone.

The letters keep coming out, and parents keep wondering how many cases.

“Under the circumstances that we are facing with this pandemic, I think everybody just wants transparency,” Columbia County parent Cindy Mitchell said.

Mitchell has her three kids set up to learn from home. She sees the situation as a double-edged sword.

“Of course they don’t want to alarm everybody if it’s not a true COVID-positive,” Mitchell said. “At the same time, there’s some parents on the other end who are like, ‘Well, if something comes up I want to know.’”

The Columbia County district only notifies parents with children who had direct or close contact or a potential exposure. Their plan says they’re keeping a daily log for the Georgia Department of Public Health.

But the district says, “We are seeking to create an efficient and accurate system for collecting data.”

Aiken County School District Supervisor of Nursing and Health Monica Mazzell says officials will call the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to report each case. Parents will be told by that agency if their child was potentially exposed.

Meanwhile, Richmond County is following rules from the Georgia Department of Public Health, which requires they notify the agency and then notify parents, staff members and teachers.

Regardless of the county, some parents believe more people need to know.

“Every parent in that class deserves a right to know just as a heads up,” Mitchell said.

Columbia County school officials said getting their learn from home platform and sorting out the school day are the priority, but they will get information on cases to us soon.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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