An employee of the Gordon County Board of Elections tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday evening after seeking medical care for sinus trouble. The employee has since entered into quarantine and the building and office have been sterilized with an aeroclave unit, making it possible for early voting to continue in the same location.
The news of an elections department employee contracting coronavirus comes as record numbers of early voters file into the office to cast their ballots for the November election. An employee in the office said Thursday that the office was being “extensively cleaned” throughout the day and between each visit by a voter. Mandatory social distancing is also being enforced.
”All employees of the elections department have been wearing masks, social distancing and regularly wiping down equipment,” Gordon County Executive Assistant Keith King said in a press release late Tuesday evening. “Gordon County is doing everything it can to protect its voters and staff.”
Those who do not feel safe voting in person are encouraged to take advantage of the secure drop box located outside of the elections office, located at the Gordon County Annex Building at 101 S. Piedmont St. The drop box is to the left of the front door of the building and can only be opened by an elections department employee with access to its key.
Gordon County saw a little small spike in confirmed cases this week after three straight days with double-digit additions, jumping from 1,999 cases on Monday to 2,066 by Thursday afternoon. That total equates to 196 new cases so far in October. Only three Gordon County deaths have added this month, bringing the total to 39 COVID-19 fatalities.
Early voting began Monday and will continue through Oct. 30. The elections office will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. for early voters. There will be one Saturday available for early voting on Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
More than 4,800 voters have requested absentee ballots for this election, setting up for an estimated six times the number of absentee votes cast in previous elections. Anyone else hoping to request an absentee ballot must do so by Oct. 30. All absentee ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to be counted.
For those hoping to vote in person, precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Find your voting precinct by visiting www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
The Calhoun Rotary Club held their annual charity golf tournament on Wednesday at Fields Ferry Golf Course. This year’s primary sponsor was Hamilton Medical Center.
College scholarships, including two Georgia REACH scholarships, are funded by the proceeds from the tournament, as well as many local youth charities that benefit from the fundraising tournament.
Winners in this year’s tournament included:
First place in the first flight: The team of Hal Lamb, Jake Brumlow, Terry Brumlow and Billy Brindle
Second place in the first flight: The team of Tracey Henderson, Brian Merlin, David Braden and Michael Boggs
First place in the second flight: The team of Chris Pierce, Mike King, Brian Stengel and Tom Eickman
Second place in the second flight: The team of Judd York, Adam Cannon, Phil Walker and Todd Blackmon
Closest to the Pin winner: Alex Sutherland
Long drive winner: Michael Boggs
Door prize winners: Russell Dudley, Terry Brumlow and Jake Brumlow
$1,000 Chip winner: Russell Dudley
The Rotary congratulates their winners and heartily thanks all who participated, sponsored or contributed to the success of the 2020 Rotary Tournament.
Gordon County Schools will be switching to a hybrid model of instruction for both of its high schools beginning Monday and continuing through the end of November after a number of students have tested positive for COVID-19.
The plan was outlined in the district’s Back to School guidance released in August. The plan calls for the schools to be closed Friday and for all students at both schools to attend online only through Schoology on Monday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Oct. 23. The week of Oct. 26-30, students with last names beginning with A-K will attend school in person, while students with last names beginning L-Z will attend online. The following week, Nov. 2-6, those roles will be reversed, with students whose last names start with L-Z attending in person and those whose last names start with A-K attending through Schoology.
Students will alternate in this fashion for the weeks of Nov. 9-13 (A-K in person, L-Z online) and Nov. 16-20 (L-Z in person, A-K online) until the Thanksgiving break, Nov. 23-27.
The tentative return date to full-time, in-person instruction will be Monday, Nov. 30.
“The decision to temporarily move to a hybrid schedule for both Gordon County high schools is a precautionary measure and comes following an increase in active COVID cases, resulting in a higher number of precautionary quarantines,” said Amy Parker, director of communications and community engagement for Gordon County Schools, in an email release. “Currently, there are seven positive student cases at Gordon Central and 11 students who are under quarantine from Sonoraville High School because they have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Parker said the school system continues to carefully monitor the active cases that impact schools.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the seven-day average of new cases reported increased 4.3% statewide; however, the seven-day average is down 66% state-wide from the peak on July 24. Gordon County is not labeled by the DPH as having high-transmission indicators at this time.
During this change in the instructional delivery model, all high school students will continue to receive instruction from their assigned classroom teachers utilizing Schoology but will only attend school in-person every other week, based upon the student’s last name.
“Having only half of the students in class at one time will allow for additional distancing among students within the classroom. Faculty and staff will work to prepare for this transition on Friday, Oct. 16, and school will be closed to students,” said Parker, who added that online-only learning next week will allow adequate time for facilities to receive extra disinfecting and sanitation and for teachers to plan for hybrid instruction.
Extracurricular activities will continue, unless otherwise notified by the school. This closure does not impact any other Gordon County school, and all elementary and middle schools will operate as normal. Parker noted that any families with students in the same household who would be attending on alternating schedules should contact the school to arrange for any necessary accommodations.
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