Catoosa County’s secondary school students are returning to a hybrid schedule — two in-person days and three virtual digital days each week — after the Thanksgiving break.
“Due to the high number of students in quarantine, secondary schools will return to the hybrid schedule on November 30 and continue for the month of December,” School Superintendent Denia Reese said in a message to students and parents on Friday, Nov. 20, on the school system’s website.
Reese said officials are monitoring three schools closely. Secondary schools represent 75% of the system's total quarantines, she said. Meanwhile, pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students will continue their five-days-per-week in-person schedule.
“I will re-evaluate our numbers in December,” Reese said, “and I hope we can return to the 4-day-a-week schedule in January.”
During the week of Nov. 16-20, quarantine numbers in secondary schools increased significantly. “While our total positive numbers in secondary schools have increased from 17-20,” she said, “quarantines in middle and high school increased by 250 students. The six secondary schools represent 75% of our total quarantines.
“We follow the Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines to determine ‘close contacts’ who must quarantine for 14 days,” Reese said. “A close contact is anyone who has been within six feet of someone who tests positive for more than 15 minutes. I know the 14-day quarantine may seem excessive; however, we have seen individuals become symptomatic and test positive in the last few days of their quarantine.”
By the numbers
According to the school system’s weekly COVID-19 report, which is issued each Friday, the number of quarantined students and staff began to spike significantly in November, rising from 453 in early November to more than 1,100 by mid-November.
Countywide, the COVID-19 transmission rate has gone up about 140% in about month. On Oct. 26 the rate was 166 cases per 100,000 people; by Nov. 22, that rate had increased to 400 cases per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, during that same period, hospitalizations increased 16%, from 84 to 97.