This is Director of Schools Bill Spurlock.
Earlier today, we posted on our dashboard with COVID-19 data from our first full week with all students. It shows that we had 500 positive cases with students last week, and 50 positive cases with employees.
Because of these numbers, we are going to institute some procedural changes concerning quarantines.
Effective immediately, we will require all contacts of positive cases to remain out of school until they have completed the recommended quarantine period. This applies to both students and employees.
Those contacts who remain symptom-free for six consecutive days, may return to school on the seventh day. Those who have symptoms, may not return to school until they have recovered from COVID-19 or it has been ruled out as the source of the issue.
Those who are household contacts of a positive case will not be permitted to return to school for at least 17 days because of the sustained nature of the contact.
Now, as for masks.
Our elected School Board has adopted a mask policy that gives parents the option of whether to send their children to school in a mask. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has also issued an executive order that states we must give parents an opt-out option.
We are, however, seeing an increased number of positive cases in schools involving both students and employees. As such, the RCS staff is highly recommending that parents send their children to school in masks. While masks are not a guarantee to prevent COVID-19, health care leaders are encouraging masks as one possible way to slow the spread of the virus.
When conditions begin to improve, we will review procedures and loosen restrictions, if possible.
It’s important to remember that no procedure will completely eliminate the spread of COVID-19. Our schools have more than 15,000 additional students in-person compared to this time last year, and so our objective is to slow down the spread of the virus.
As we’ve mentioned before, many of us have children and grandchildren within the schools, and so we have a vested interest in maintaining safe learning environments. We appreciate all that you are doing, and we appreciate your willingness to work together for the benefit of our children and their education.”
Full updated procedure available here.