Thirteen Habersham Central High School students are in quarantine after three people at the school tested positive for COVID-19. Two of those who tested positive are students, the other is a staff member, according to Habersham County School Superintendent Matthew Cooper. He says there is no connection between them. The three are now in isolation.
There have been no positive cases of COVID-19 reported at any of Habersham County’s other thirteen schools.
Cooper says he can’t release details on when the three at HCHS tested positive. Students returned to Habersham Central for in-class instruction on September 8. Faculty and staff have been working at the school since early August.
“The school has notified those who may have come in close contact with those who have tested positive,” says Cooper.
The school system’s COVID-19 protocol defines ‘close contact’ as anyone who was closer than six feet for fifteen or more minutes of cumulative contact. Close contacts are required to quarantine for a minimum of fourteen days from the day of exposure. Quarantined students are temporarily transitioned to hybrid learning with their classroom teachers.
Cooper stresses that just because the thirteen students are quarantined it does not mean they have the virus. Quarantining is standard protocol for those who’ve been in close contact.
“I had another superintendent in our area tell me that they had quarantined more than 325 students this year and only one actually contracted the virus,” Cooper tells Now Habersham. Calling that statistic “insightful and encouraging,” he adds “none of the students or staff we have quarantined have contracted the virus.”
Habersham Central parents whose children were not in close contact with those who tested positive were notified of the COVID cases by robocalls. One parent says the call made her “panic.” Cooper urges parents to maintain perspective.
“We have said from the beginning that we expected to have some students and staff test positive for the virus. But, as we continue to move through the school year I want to encourage our parents to consider having the proper perspective over fear,” he says, offering up the math to make his point.
Currently, 5,857 students are receiving in-class instruction in Habersham’s public schools. That means that .03% of the students actually have an active case of COVID-19. Cooper calls that “a very tiny percentage” when you consider the big picture. The single staff member represents what Cooper calls a “minuscule” .09% of the system’s 1,094 employees.
Cooper praises the system’s faculty and staff for their efforts in minimizing the spread. Such efforts include sanitizing the buildings, making allowances for social distancing when possible, and increasing the amount of time students spend outside.
The superintendent remains optimistic the COVID-19 situation in Habersham County will continue to improve as the year progresses. He remains convinced that returning to in-class instruction was the right thing to do.
“I continue to believe wholeheartedly that unless a student has a health issue they are better off in school right now.”
The Habersham County School System posts on its website a weekly COVID-19 update for all fourteen schools. To view that and the school system’s coronavirus protocol, visit https://www.habershamschools.com/apps/pages/covid19.
This article has been updated to reflect the correct percentages of students and staff affected by COVID-19.