Low number of students positive for COVID-19 in county schools


Only 10 of 6,930 students in Walker County Schools have tested positive for COVID-19 since traditional, in-person instruction resumed on Aug. 27.

Margaret Guthrie, director of health services for the Walker County Board of Education, said an additional 43 students have self-quarantined due to possible exposure to the disease.

"We've been fortunate that a lot of the situations [that led to self-quarantine or a positive test] happened on the weekends or on days they are off," Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood said. "In that regard, we've been really, really blessed."

Only four faculty and staff members have tested positive for coronavirus, and 11 have self-quarantined.

Guthrie said the latest cumulative numbers are through Sept. 4. Data from this past week will be calculated next week.

Both Guthrie and Hagood agreed that staff members and students have responded positively to changes in campus operations, such as mask wear, social distancing, and daily temperature checks.

"I haven't had a single principal tell me that it has been an issue. The kids are doing their part. They're complying," Hagood said.

Guthrie added, "The staff has done great."

Students are still attending school two days each week, with three days of virtual learning. Other students are remote-only learners.  

Hagood said the school system continues to evaluate when students can return to a normal schedule and that school board leaders are continuing to monitor each county's risk status for contracting COVID-19. 

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health on Friday, Walker County is once again in the "high risk" category for the possibility of contracting the disease. 

Hagood has been communicating with superintendents in neighboring counties to see how COVID-19 is impacting their schools. 

"They're all fairing pretty well. It's been a pleasant surprise," he said.

While students are continuing to do the majority of their learning virtually, teachers are having to make the most of each school day.

"I'm really emphasizing that we've got to be diligent," Hagood said. "We have made a point of emphasis on critical standards."

While a low number of students, faculty, and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, Hagood said the school system is still in need of substitute teachers, bus drivers, nurses, and lunchroom workers. 

"We need people to be available in case we do have a situation pop up," he said. "Under normal circumstances, substitutes are of a premium, but especially now under these circumstances. No one is lining up to do it." 


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