Aug. 27—The Child Development Center is the latest school in the Cullman County Schools system to close due to COVID.
According to a statement from the system, three students have tested positive and 43 students are quarantining due to close contacts. Twelve school employees are out due to COVID (8 positive, 4 close contacts).
The system has more than 10% of students out of school due to a confirmed positive test, or due to a student being a close contact.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, there have been 198 positive COVID cases and 820 close contact for a total of 1,018 or 10.8% of the student population. The current enrollment K-12 is 9,425.
The numbers reflect a change in the systems calculation criteria.
According to the statement, "Previously, we were also including unexcused absences in our calculation because we know many (but not all) of those absences are students who are pending a test or are having symptoms. A lot of these instances are an example of a parent doing what they are supposed to do... keeping a child at home if they have symptoms. Once a parent confirms a positive test and notifies the school, that child is then factored into the positive number. We appreciate those parents who are being proactive by not sending students with symptoms to school.
"Regardless of the criteria, we are seeing high numbers in Good Hope and at Parkside. Those campuses are closed as previously reported. Numbers are increasing across the district, and it is possible we will see more campuses going remote. While masks are not popular, we strongly advise everyone to wear one. If your child attends a school where COVID percentages are over 15 percent, masks are required... and that has been communicated from each individual school principal."
Cullman County Schools does not have legal authority to require infected or exposed persons to quarantine. That authority is through the Alabama Department of Public Health. The district, however, does have authority to prevent infected of exposed persons from coming on school campuses.
"The ADPH has received reports that some school systems are identifying and then notifying close contacts but not excluding those persons from campus. If a close contact is identified, school systems are required to exclude them from campus," Alabama Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said in a letter to superintendents.
Cullman County Schools is following the state policy and will continue to identify close contacts and require a student or staff member to be off campus for 10 days from the date of exposure.