COVID-19 cases remain low in Walker County Schools

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Confirmed cases of COVID-19 remain low in Walker County schools, while the number of people self-quarantining is on the rise.

Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood said the school system had six people test positive for coronavirus as of last Friday. 

"That's only .08 percent of our faculty, staff and students," Hagood said.

Four students and two staff members represent positive cases.

A total of 122 students and 18 staff members have self-quarantined due to close contact exposure to COVID-19. Hagood said the 140 who have self-quarantined represent 1.7 percent of the school system. 

The Walker County Board of Education is not releasing which campuses have had the most confirmed cases or the highest number of people self-quarantining; however, Hagood would confirm that county high schools are being impacted more than elementary schools.

In the Daily Mountain Eagle's last report on Sept. 12, a total of 10 students were confirmed to have COVID-19, as well as four faculty and staff members. An additional 43 students were in self-quarantine.

New COVID-19 statistics are compiled by the board of education each Friday.

Hagood said he believes the low numbers of COVID-19 in the school system are, in part, due to the cooperation of students and everyone employed with the school system. He said parents are also to be commended for screening their children for coronavirus symptoms at home. 

"I went to three schools yesterday (Tuesday), and I was so impressed," Hagood said. "They had no idea I was coming, and I walked into a senior government class and every kid in there had their mask on in the classroom. Our kids have been doing really well."

He continued, "I really want to brag on our kids, on our faculty and staff, on our parents. They want to get back to normal, and they're working with us."

On Wednesday, Gov. Kay Ivey extended the state's mandatory mask order through Nov. 8, a decision Hagood said he is in support of to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Currently, Alabama students in grades 2 through 12 and all school employees are required to wear face masks. 

"I understand why she's doing what she's doing because it appears to be having an impact," he said. 

All Walker County students who chose to attend traditional school, as opposed to remote learning, returned to school on Monday. In the weeks prior, traditional school students were only on campus two days each week and split into a Monday/Tuesday group and a Thursday/Friday group, according to their last names.

Each Wednesday remains a deep cleaning day for school campuses, while students do virtual learning.

Hagood said roughly 70 percent of the student body has opted for traditional learning district-wide, while 30 percent of students remain remote-only learners.

Having all traditional students back on campus together is going well so far, according to the superintendent, and children are happy to be back with their friends.

"So far it has been great. The kids are so happy," Hagood said. "Even under normal circumstances, you have technology issues. You can imagine trying to take on something of this magnitude. It got the job done, but it's just not ideal."

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For more education news from the Daily Mountain Eagle, visit http://www.mountaineagle.com/education.