The number of student and staff quarantines within both school systems has increased significantly since the return from the Christmas break and Rome City Schools will take Friday off, citing the spike.
“There will be no in-person or virtual classes,” a release from the system stated. “Students will receive assignments on Thursday for Friday’s flexible learning. Extracurricular activities will continue as scheduled. Meals for Friday will be distributed on Thursday during school.”
The record numbers of new COVID-19 cases that continue to be reported across the region are also reflected in the area’s school systems.
As of Wednesday, Rome City Schools is reporting 480 students and staff quarantined and Floyd County Schools reported 751 students and staff in quarantine after a potential COVID-19 exposure.
When considering whether or not to keep schools open for in-person learning, RCS Superintendent Lou Byars said having enough staff members at a school is one of the most important factors.
“It really comes down to staff and staffing,” Byars said.
FCS Superintendent Glenn White said the county system has had significant new quarantines recently in schools like Pepperell High School and Model High School.
“Fortunately, right now we’re still able to staff all our schools,” White said.
Like the city school system, the county schools have pledged to cover any administration fees associated with staff members receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m encouraging all our employees and I’m taking the vaccine, when it comes available,” White said. “There will be no cost to our employees.”
Both school systems intend to set up vaccination stations when vaccines are available for school staff members, which have been designated in group 1B.
It’s difficult to say when COVID-19 vaccines would be available for teachers. On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp urged patience for people waiting to be vaccinated. Currently the vaccines are approved for those in group 1A-plus, including healthcare workers, first responders and those over the age of 65.
Regionally, cases have continued to remain extremely high since several days after Thanksgiving. Public health officials have attributed the high number of cases to family gatherings during the holidays.
Floyd County has seen new COVID-19 cases at rates of nearly 800 every two weeks and a large number of corresponding hospitalizations, which have stressed health care systems locally and statewide.
So far, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus has killed over 10,000 Georgians. Of those deaths, 118 are Floyd County residents. Of the 1,218 deaths suspected to have been the result of a COVID-19 infection, 20 were Floyd County residents.