Troup County Schools consider options as COVID surges

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, January 1, 2022

By Iris Hersey

As schools around Troup County prepare to return on Tuesday, principals, directors and Superintendent Brian Shumate met to discuss what the rising COVID cases mean for the Troup County School System. Per Dr. Shumate, TCSS plans to stick to highly recommending masks and being in-person when schools return on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Shumate said this is subject to change as new information comes to light from the Department of Public Health.

“We continue to monitor all the data from the Department of Public Health,” Shumate said. “We’re hoping for the best. We plan to have another communication meeting on Monday afternoon to further assess our data and make any final decisions as students return to school.”

Shumate said right now the school board is working with incomplete information due to faculty and students being away for the holiday break.

“Our numbers look very low, but we don’t have good information, meaning principals will enter data into our database as they get it,” Shumate said. “Principals aren’t hearing as much from parents or their staff, so we don’t have any way of knowing.”

To alleviate this, Shumate said they plan to survey the staff of TCSS. He encouraged parents to report if their child has tested positive or is currently quarantined.

“We plan to survey our staff and see where we are,” Shumate said. “We encourage parents if their students are positive and/or indirect contact and are quarantined to let the schools know as soon as possible. They can email their principal and then they can enter it into their database. Then, we’ll have a better handle on what our numbers look like.”

Shumate commented on the new CDC guidelines and said there are multiple things to be considered when choosing what is best for TCSS.

“The new CDC guidelines with quarantining for five days instead of ten days actually helps us and there [are] multiple things at work here,” he said.

Shumate highlighted three ways dealing with 2020’s surge helped TCSS handle this most recent surge.

“One is last year we gave people plenty of advanced notice. Two is the strain of the virus seemed to be more severe. Three is nobody was vaccinated this time last year,” Shumate said. “We got all three of those things planned to our advantage. We haven’t told anybody because we [aren’t] planning on [going virtual]. But if we have to, we’re able to do it quickly.”

Shumate said TCSS does have a contingency plan in place if the need for it arises.

“We have created a contingency plan to go virtual if we have to. We certainly don’t plan to or want to,” he said. “What that would mean is all students would take their Chromebooks home… We would follow a very similar meal distribution plan that we did when we were virtual in May of 2020.”

Overall, the situation is subject to change, and updates will be made available as more information is provided.