As states and school districts continue to assess the risk of reopening schools as fall quickly approaches, Georgia’s largest school district is reporting that 260 employees have either tested positive for coronavirus or are in quarantine because of possible exposure a week after employees went back to work.
According to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, Gwinnett County Public School teachers began in-person pre-planning last week. By the next day, about 260 employees had been blocked from returning to work due to a positive case or contact with a case.
The number is “fluid,” said Gwinnett spokeswoman Sloan Roach, as new reports come in and other employees move out of quarantine after a period of time.
“Through tracing, we know that the majority of these cases are the result of community spread, meaning we have people who have called in to report who have not been at school or work,” Roach added.
Gwinnett County has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases in the state of Georgia. As of Sunday, there have been 17,781 positive cases in Gwinnett with 1,996 hospitalizations and 240 deaths.
“Given the number of COVID cases in Gwinnett, we would expect to see positives among our employees based on the community spread in our county,” Roach said.
Teachers have complained that even without children in the classroom, their health is at risk.
“We have reporting and tracing processes in place. We also have a protocol for excluding employees who are positive or are a contact,” said Roach. “In addition, there are protocols for making reports to the Health Department when there are two or more related cases.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports having received hundreds of phone calls, texts, emails and instant messages from Gwinnett teachers who asked to remain anonymous.
There are claims that in-person training and meetings are taking place without areas being wiped down or disinfected in between and masks aren’t being worn at all times, according to several teachers who didn’t disclose their names when contacting the AJC.
Others added that their school still hadn’t received any hand sanitizer.
However, Roach said guidelines for the district’s schools, which include cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, are being followed.
“I personally know of at least 16 schools with outbreaks and teachers have only been back for three days,” one teacher told AJC.
It will be interesting to see if school administrators in other states find themselves in a similar situation. We’ll keep you posted.
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