By the numbers: Active cases among Memphis kids hold steady as adult cases decline

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As active case numbers began to decline from a recent peak upwards of 30,000, active cases among kids in Memphis and Shelby County leveled off around 6,100 cases over the last week, data from the Shelby County Health Department show.

While Shelby County has the highest total number of cases among kids throughout the pandemic, when adjusted for population, the rate of infection is among the lowest of Tennessee regions, state data show.

Active cases among kids are higher than during the delta peak, but reported cases are not as significant a share of total cases as they were during delta. During delta's peak, about a third of reported cases were among kids, whereas current reported cases among kids are just under a quarter.

But the unprecedented levels of infection continue to impact school logistics and student learning. Teachers and students with COVID-19 are absent, as are people with symptoms or possible exposures. The first week of school in the new year, ending Jan. 8, nearly one in three COVID-19 tests among Memphis kids came back positive, according to state data.

Due to students, teachers and staff impacted by COVID-19 infections, the state granted a request for Collierville High School to go virtual for the week. The district isn't applying for any additional waivers, spokesperson Jennifer Hannah said Friday.

Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen in the new year, though severe COVID-19 disease among children is rare.

Elizabeth Edkin teaches 3rd grade English and language arts class at Sheffield Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.
Elizabeth Edkin teaches 3rd grade English and language arts class at Sheffield Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital reported it had 31 children with COVID-19 hospitalized Friday, close to the peak of 33 during the delta surge in August. Shelby County reported record levels of hospitalizations Thursday during its weekly data update.

For school districts that report case information, cases reported this week appeared to be elevated, to varying degrees, from weeks prior.

Millington Municipal Schools, the only school district to report student and staff quarantines, reported close to 2% of students out with active infections and 6% out due to possible exposures.

Reported cases among Shelby County's public school districts are below.

Shelby County Schools

Between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, the district reported:

  • 1,005 student cases among about 83,300 students in traditional SCS schools, or about 1.2%

  • 436 staff cases

The district did not report how many students or staff were impacted by quarantine.

The district has reported a total of 5,046 student cases and 1,523 staff cases among traditional schools since the start of school on Aug. 9.

Among the district's more than 50 charter schools, between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13, the district reported:

  • 177 student cases among 19,800 students, or about 0.9%

  • 141 staff cases

The district did not report how many students or staff were impacted by quarantine.

The district has reported a total of 824 student cases and 237 staff cases among charter schools since most started school on Aug. 9.

As of Dec. 16, about 6.9% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data, which calculates attendance across the district's traditional and charter schools. About 0.6% were remote.

SCS requires masks.

Deiner Temaj Coronado, left, and Gavin Mitchell work in a group as Sharon Hardin teaches 6th grade math and science class inside a learning cottage at Sheffield Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.
Deiner Temaj Coronado, left, and Gavin Mitchell work in a group as Sharon Hardin teaches 6th grade math and science class inside a learning cottage at Sheffield Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

Arlington Community Schools

Between Jan. 8 and Jan. 14, the district reported:

  • 137 student cases among 4,978 students, about 2.8%

  • 8 staff cases

The district did not report how many students or staff were impacted by quarantine.

The district has reported a total of 518 student cases and 74 staff cases since the start of school on Aug. 9.

As of Dec. 16, about 4% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data.

Arlington does not require masks.

Bartlett City Schools

The district generally reports case data to the state dashboard, which was "currently being refreshed with updated data submissions" Friday afternoon.

As of Dec. 16, about 4.7% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data, and 0.9% were remote.

Bartlett does not require masks.

Collierville Schools

Collierville High School moved to remote instruction for the week beginning Tuesday for all students.

Going virtual: Collierville High goes virtual as COVID-19 causes student, teacher absences

As of Jan. 14, the district reported:

  • 161 active student cases among 9,119 students, or 1.8%

  • 35 active staff cases among 1,346 employees, or 2.6%

The district did not report how many students or staff were impacted by quarantine.

The district has reported a total of 989 student cases and 147 staff cases since the start of school on Aug. 9.

As of Dec. 16, about 3.3% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data, and 0.4% were remote.

Collierville requires masks for staff but not for students.

MASKS NOT REQUIRED: No masks required for Collierville Schools students, board decides, despite superintendent's staffing concerns

Germantown Municipal Schools

Between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13 the district reported:

  • 128 student cases

  • 22 staff cases

The district did not report how many students or staff were impacted by quarantine.

The district has reported a total of 579 student cases and 116 staff cases since the start of school on Aug. 9.

As of Dec. 16, about 4.5% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data.

Germantown requires masks.

Students including Fatmeh Jaber (from right), Connor Gleason and Ella Garner go through the syllabus in Amanda Schulter’s art class Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Houston High School in Germantown.
Students including Fatmeh Jaber (from right), Connor Gleason and Ella Garner go through the syllabus in Amanda Schulter’s art class Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at Houston High School in Germantown.

Lakeland School System

The district generally reports case data to the state dashboard, which was "currently being refreshed with updated data submissions" Friday afternoon.

As of Dec. 16, about 4.8% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data, and 0.3% were remote.

Lakeland does not require masks.

MASK MANDATE: Germantown schools issue mask mandate for returning students

Millington Municipal Schools

As of Jan. 14, the district reported:

  • 44 active student cases among 2,600 students, about 1.7%

  • 3 active staff cases among 399 employees, about 0.75%

  • 158 of 2,600 students, or 6.1%, out of school due to quarantine

  • 6 of 399 employees, or 1.5%, out of school due to quarantine

The district has reported a total of 294 student cases and 53 staff cases since the start of school on Aug. 9.

As of Dec. 16, about 7.1% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data, and 0.7% were remote.

Millington does not require masks.

Achievement School District

The district generally reports case data to the state dashboard, which was "currently being refreshed with updated data submissions" Friday afternoon.

Of the 27 schools in the Achievement School District, 25 are in Memphis and 2 are in Nashville.

As of Dec. 16, about 3.3% of students were absent on average over the month prior, per state data.

Masking requirements across the district's schools were not immediately clear.

Laura Testino covers education and children's issues for the Commercial Appeal. Reach her at laura.testino@commercialappeal.com or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Active cases among Memphis kids hold steady as adult cases decline

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