Polk School District and its individual schools took to social media last week in an effort to explain the reasoning and procedures behind keeping kids out of class because of a positive case of COVID-19.
The posts from school officials give an overview of the policies for any teacher or student who is tested for the new coronavirus, receives a positive result or is exposed to a positive case.
The announcements came in the midst of a week without classes for Polk County students as teachers were given time to work on their online lesson plans to better serve students in the classroom as well as those who may have to miss class due to a mandatory quarantine period.
Students return to classes this week, with the district moving to a four-day week for the remainder of the semester. Each Monday will be set aside as a teacher work day and a time to perform any deep cleaning of facilities necessary for health and safety.
According to the posts, whenever a student or employee is tested for COVID-19 for any reason they will be required to stay home until they receive a negative test result or are cleared by the Department of Public Health.
If a student or employee is exposed to someone with the virus, the quarantine time is 14 days from the last date of exposure, with exposure meaning being closer than 6 feet to a person with the virus for 15 continuous minutes or more.
The policy is based on guidance from the DPH and supported by the Georgia Department of Education.
Polk County schools have had reported cases of both students and teachers testing positive for COVID-19 in the days since classes started back on Aug. 3 with the biggest impact being at Cedartown High School where the confirmed cases in three football players led to the team temporarily halting practice and canceling its season opening game on Sept. 4 at Carrollton.
A post from Rockmart High School went into further detail for anyone that receives a positive test result, stating that a student or employee should stay away from school for at least 10 days from the day symptoms began. This is 10 days total, not 10 school days.
Schools are reporting any positive tests to the DPH, but the DPH does not contact each school with any testing information, so students must keep up with when symptoms began or when they received a test.
The RHS post also explained how they are following contact tracing procedures and following DPH guidance on quarantining for students who are exposed.
“If someone in class is diagnosed with COVID-19 and you sit near this person, we will give your information to the DPH. You will need to talk to them if you do not feel you fit the definition of exposed.
“The DPH will tell you if you need to quarantine or not and for how long. You do not have to share this date with the school but we do appreciate it if you do.”
The DPH reported Friday that statewide positive cases of COVID-19 decreased by 11% in the second week of August compared to the week before.
As of press time Saturday, Polk County had nearly 400 new cases since Aug. 1 reported to the DPH, according to its daily COVID-19 status report — which can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
A total of 1,061 positive cases in Polk County have led to 51 hospitalizations — 20 more since Aug. 1 — and six more deaths this month for a total of 12.