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Taliaferro County’s schools going virtual due to rise in COVID cases

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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CRAWFORDVILLE, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The rise in COVID cases is forcing one of our local school districts to go virtual after just two weeks back in the classroom. Taliaferro County says the decision comes out of abundance of caution after multiple students tested positive for COVID forcing four classrooms and one bus route to quarantine.

We talked to the principal and local health experts to see if parents in our other districts should expect this, too.

Empty halls already filled with this year’s artwork, “My First-Day Feelings” from the second-grade class. Excited and nervous now principal Williams has to stop herself from tearing up.

“It feels like a failure to have to then shut your doors to the people who need to be in the building we want our students here and it is absolutely heartbreaking that they’re not,” said Cherita Williams, principal.

A tiny K-12 school in a small county, with a total of 170 students shut their doors after four positive COVID cases just this week.

“You know I think that is really almost the saddest part is that it wasn’t unexpected,” she said.

They required masks, students socially distanced, ate meals in their classrooms, and there were enhanced cleaning protocols and hand sanitizer stations. But still, four positive cases which may not seem like a lot, but for an average class size of 10 students, just one positive case is 10 percent of the class. And when you consider who has been in contact, and has to quarantine, you could be talking half of your class.

“Schools have not been where the majority of transmissions have occurred,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, infectious disease specialist, Medical College of Georgia.

Health experts say schools are not a major cause of transmission but a reflection of the community. A community of about 1,500 people just 12 percent fully vaccinated. In Richmond County, our vaccination rate is barely breaking 40 percent.

“Our kids don’t care about wearing masks. It’s not a political thing for them they just want to be in school,” said Williams.

The district is using this as a chance for the whole community to hit the reset button and try to keep kids in school the rest of the semester. They’re hosting a testing drive next week at the school on Thursday from 4-6 p.m., and the week after that a vaccine drive. We’ll have those details for you once they’re finalized.

The decision “came after much deliberation and out of an abundance of caution,” according to a post on the district’s Facebook page.

“We love our students, staff, and community too much to put anyone in harm’s way,” the post said.

Also in the news ...

  • The Aiken County Football Jamboree scheduled for Aug. 13 and featuring Aiken County high school varsity football teams has been canceled due to a significant increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, school officials said. The decision to cancel the scrimmage was made by school district athletic directors in an abundance of caution for the safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff members, and families alike, and was unanimous.
  • The Glascock County School System said Wednesday and Thursday that a total of five students had tested positive for COVID, including two from the same household. The district said three of the cases weren’t thought to have originated from the school system and that “administration and school staff are making adjustments to the COVID mitigation strategies to help negate the effects of positive cases on our students.”

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