Cherokee County schools close due to coronavirus surge among staff

Schools in Cherokee County will be closed at least through Jan. 19 after a coronavirus surge in the county and throughout the school system caused the absence of 400 staff members system-wide.

The school system just reopened for in-person learning on Wednesday.

“Cases are higher in our community, our state and our nation than ever before.  Health experts are voicing concerns that a new COVID-19 strain now circulating in our nation will spread faster among everyone, including school-age children. Our hospitals are full,” Cherokee County School Superintendent Brian Hightower said. “Our dedicated workforce of teachers, staff and substitutes have been affected by the community spread like all of their neighbors. This afternoon, we now have more than 400 of our full-time staff absent due to COVID-19 positive cases and precautionary quarantines, with more test results pending; and our substitute availability is similarly weakened. We cannot continue to operate in-person school safely with this level of staff absences,” he said.

School will be virtual-only starting Monday and will remain virtual at least until Jan. 19.

Parents whose children do not have access to a laptop computer or internet access need to contact the school front office as soon as possible. Students who need to pick up medication or other items that they must have during this closure should call the school’s front office to make an appointment.

School Nutrition will have to-go meals for the week prepared for pick-up in the bus lanes of schools from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 11. Students do not have to be with parents who pick up these meals.

Hightower urged parents to continue reporting their children’s positive test results to the school during the closure and to stay home when they are sick.

As of Thursday, Cherokee County had amassed 18,351 positive cases of coronavirus and has had 130 confirmed deaths from the virus with four more deaths that were likely caused by the virus. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 856 people in Cherokee have been hospitalized for the virus.

Health officials have said the recent surge in coronavirus cases was caused by holiday gatherings where social distancing measures were not observed. Since the virus can take two weeks to show symptoms, the effects of New Year’s gatherings have yet to be felt.

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