Cherokee Schools Cautious After False Coronavirus Rumors
The Cherokee County School District said no students have tested positive for coronavirus and the Georgia Department of Public Health is not recommending any school closures. Meanwhile, two area private schools have closed out of an abundance of caution and schools in the county have added precautions.
The announcement comes a day after a Facebook post went viral, worrying local parents and students about an outbreak in the community. An additional rumor on Thursday prompted the latest response.
"False rumors began circulating today that an Etowah High School student had been diagnosed with COVID-19," spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said in a statement to parents. "Please be advised that we have confirmed with DPH officials that the rumor is false."
The student with COVID-19 is a Fulton County resident who became sick after his father traveled to Italy, GPB News previously reported.
A local student has been diagnosed with a common coronavirus, which causes mild to moderate symptoms similar to a cold and is not the same as COVID-19, Jacoby said.
Common coronaviruses are circulating in communities at all times, and most people are infected with this virus at some time in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The district spokeswoman said school officials expect more confusion about rumors and coronavirus, but do not plan to respond further. Notifications will be made if anyone tests positive for the coronavirus causing COVID-19.
The 15-year-old with the newly diagnosed disease is in self-quarantine at home and has experienced mild symptoms. He did attend classes at the Living Science Home Studies private co-op school for home schoolers in Woodstock and had contact with a second home school co-op in Cherokee County called Compass Prep, Jacoby said.
"Some students who attend classes at Living Science and Compass Prep have siblings who attend CCSD schools," Jacoby said. "Both of the co-ops have closed temporarily."
DPH officials asked the parents of the co-op students in classes with the diagnosed student to self-quarantine in an abundance of caution, but consider the risk low.
“This was not person-to-person contact in the community that created this case, this was a travel-related case," Kathleen Toomey, the state’s public health commissioner, said Monday during a press conference.
CCSD decided to take additional steps to reduce any possible COVID-19 cases:
ABSENCES: Students who provide written documentation from their healthcare provider advising them to stay home from school due to COVID-19 will be medically excused without academic penalty in accordance with School Board Policy JBD. Families of these students should contact their school’s front office for additional guidance. Employees not reporting to work due to COVID-19 will provide written documentation from their healthcare provider, and use of sick leave and access to the sick leave bank, if a participant, will be permitted in accordance with School Board Policy GBRI.
ENROLLMENT: Prior to enrolling, new families to CCSD from countries with travel advisories for COVID-19 issued by the CDC are asked to refrain from coming to the school and to instead call in advance for instructions. CCSD will work with DPH to determine appropriate registration and attendance plans.
FACILITIES: Custodians are using products confirmed by the manufacturer to kill viruses and are focused on ensuring schools are cleaned and well-stocked with soap and paper towels. If warranted, additional custodial staff will be deployed to assist. If there is a specific issue at your child’s school, please contact the school’s front office.
FIELD TRIPS: Our Curriculum & Instruction staff that oversees field trips is in communications with our travel planners and monitoring travel advisories to ensure we take necessary precautions. We will not hesitate to cancel a trip should it be deemed necessary and would work with families to pursue refunds. Students, employees and chaperones who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms will not be permitted to participate in field trips and would work with families to pursue refunds.
REPORTING TRAVEL: Parents/guardians of CCSD students and CCSD employees should inform DPH if anyone in their household has traveled to areas with travel advisories for COVID-19 issued by the CDC. Upon notification by DPH, schools will work with DPH to determine the appropriate action regarding re-entry of those children and employees into the school.
Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to give an update on coronavirus testing and kits in the state at 4 p.m. Please visit GPB.org/coronavirus for more information and to stream the press conference.