Rome City Schools Floyd County Schools

Both Rome City and Floyd County school systems will be taking a long weekend to recover from the rise in COVID-19 infections, especially in staff.

“A recent increase of staff absences due to COVID-19 and other reasons has greatly impacted the number of employees who are able to work,” a statement from the city school system read.

A similar sentiment was expressed in a statement by the county school system. They’ll both be closed Friday.

“We have tried to cover classes and keep activities going, but unfortunately, due to a recent increase of staff absences due to COVID-19 and other reasons, we are being greatly impacted by the number of employees who are able to work,” FCS spokesperson Lenora McEntire Doss said.

The week has seen increasing covid infections in students and staff in both school systems, and the decisions were made in part because of lack of staffing and in part to stem that spread.

Rome City Schools declared the system would move to Phase 2 of their COVID-19 protocols earlier this week, even before some schools reached their set 1% rate of infection.

The county school board’s policy is to enforce masking at schools that have passed a 2% infection rate and to go to virtual classes for schools that pass a 5% infection rate.

By Wednesday, Armuchee High School and Alto Park Elementary School had already moved toward the 3% infection rate mark and several others were near the 2% mark.

The city school board set a lower benchmark than the county schools to enact masking protocols and other precautions. Each city school immediately adopts their covid precautions when they bypass the 1% rate of infection.

The county schools look at the infections each week, resetting the gauge, and make a determination on Fridays.

As of the announcement Thursday, the plan is for Rome to return to classes on Tuesday and Floyd County to return to classes on Wednesday. The county school system has all previously scheduled extracurricular activities proceeding as normal.

The rise in school infections mirrors what’s happening in the community. Floyd County is continuing to hit new covid records every day. In the past two weeks 2,997 Floyd County residents have tested positive for the virus, according to Georgia Department of Public Health records.

The Dalton Daily Citizen is reporting a similar situation in Whitfield County Schools. The number of COVID-19 cases among students and staff is “like an avalanche right now,” said Deputy Superintendent Karey Williams.

Since the school system returned from holiday break last week, they’ve been using support staff to cover positions. Still, as of Wednesday, the school system had no plans to move to remote instruction.

“We’re trying to keep kids in schools, fed, and safe,” Williams said.

Whitfield County’s rate of 21,254 covid cases per 100,000 residents is third-highest in the state, and the county has seen 2,330 new infections during the past two weeks.

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