A spike in COVID-19 cases at East Coweta High School could force the school to switch to virtual instruction for the rest of the semester, if cases continue to rise.
A “large number” of the population at ECHS has been placed under quarantine or isolation after 21 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 1-8.
According to a letter sent to parents and guardians Wednesday by the Coweta County School System, quarantined personnel includes instructional, non-instructional and office staff.
“Exposures have come from cases in the community at large as well as from within the school,” the letter stated. “This situation has the potential to significantly impact the school’s ability to operate for face-to-face instruction. If cases continue to rise at the school, in an effort to safely continue student instruction, the high school may consider concluding first semester instruction virtually.”
East Coweta and the school system are working with local public health agencies to continually review the situation, as with all positive tests for COVID-19 as well as potential exposures, school officials say.
In addition, all steps recommended by the Georgia Department of Public Health have been implemented. Those include:
• Preventive school cleaning, disinfection and hygiene measures.
• Limiting meetings, activities and school visitors.
• Requiring that masks or face coverings continue to be worn diligently in school.
• Promoting social distancing by remaining 6 feet from others as much as possible in school.
• Advising employees to voluntarily limit travel as much as possible beyond work and home.
According to the letter, the school system also continues to work with the DPH and follow protocols for contact tracing for each case, including:
• Thorough interviews of staff and students conducted by school health staff to contact trace each case individually, and advise isolation or quarantine of individuals to prevent spread of COVID-19, per DPH protocol.
• Individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 were advised to isolate. Close contacts of positive cases identified through contact tracing were advised to quarantine, per DPH protocols.
• Regular health checks and self-reporting efforts, and advisement of quarantine due to symptoms, per DPH protocol.
• All employees not identified as a close contact are advised that a positive case has been identified and that quarantine was not required in their case, per DPH protocols.
• All individual cases, and all contact tracing findings, were reported to the DPH for review and additional guidance.
The school system is asking all students and employees take the following steps:
Monitor your health daily and self-assess for the following COVID-19 symptoms prior to reporting for work or school: Fever or chills; headache; cough; new loss of taste or smell; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; sore throat; fatigue; congestion or runny nose; muscle or body aches; and nausea or vomiting.
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home from work and notify your school. Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible, and notify him or her that a COVID-19 case was identified in your school. The DPH recommends laboratory testing for all suspected COVID-19 cases.
Please adhere as closely as possible to social distancing protocols while at work or school. Minimize visits to other rooms or activities, meet virtually when possible and avoid congregate gatherings. Please adhere to other mitigative measures while at school, such as wearing masks or facial coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained. It is also recommended that everyone do the same with non-household members outside of school.
“The Coweta County School System considers the health and well-being of our students, teachers, and staff to be of the utmost importance,” the letter stated. “We have appreciated the cooperation of students and employees in following the preventative guidance outlined above.”
The situation will continue to be monitored, and any questions should be directed to a student’s principal or school nurse.
“We will advise you of any further actions or guidance regarding East Coweta High School, and will advise parents of any updates to this situation,” the letter stated.