By Joe Johnson
Three more students attending Chase Street Elementary School have tested positive for Covid-19 after the school on Friday temporarily halted in-person learning due to a spike of eight cases of the virus.
“Over the weekend, three additional COVID-19 cases were reported at Chase Street Elementary,” Clarke County School District Director of Nursing Services Amy Roark said in a letter emailed Monday to Chase Street families.
“Since April 30, a total of 11 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported at the school,” Roark said. “Two of the three new cases do indicate classroom spread. Thankfully, these two new positive cases did not have any identified close contacts since they were already at home in quarantine. We are currently contact tracing the third case, and we do anticipate a few school-based exposures will be identified. We will contact families as appropriate.
Laura Thompson, whose two sons attend Chase Street and were among the initial group to test positive, was concerned that the school district did not give families complete information when informing them in a Friday email about the transitioning to virtual learning.
In addition to the initial eight infected students, the letter stated that 114 students had been placed under quarantine. The letter informed families that trained contact tracers determined that the COVID-19 incidents at Chase were likely due to community exposures.
Thompson said when she contacted Roark, the head nurse told her that CCSD contact tracers “stay in their lane” and only contact trace for school time, and don’t take into account community activities, “and therefore rarely speak to parents.”
The concerned parent said Tuesday that Roark’s explanation of contact tracing “strengthens my argument for why the letter shouldn’t have touted that based on the evidence from their contact tracing the exposures weren’t from school. You can’t possibly draw that conclusion from looking at incomplete information.”
Thompson said that while the second letter on Monday included information about how to get tested, “I’m worried it was at least three days too late.
“People who are trusting the school leaders to make well-informed decisions would read the letter from Friday and send kids who haven’t been quarantined to their grandmother’s house this week for virtual school,” Thompson said. “Hopefully, no one else brings Covid to their elderly relatives.
“My 68-year-old mother-in-law who has been in our Covid bubble since she fell and broke her pelvis last year now has Covid, despite being fully vaccinated,” she said.
In the Friday letter, officials said they expected to welcome students back into the Chase Street school building on May 17, the beginning of the final week of classes for the school year.