AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Auburn City School leaders say while aggressive safety measures are in place to protect students from COVID-19, the virus is already impacting classrooms during the first week of school.
“The reality is there have been positive cases that have impacted our schools, and there will be more cases moving forward. Auburn City Schools continues to follow the Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines related to COVID-19,” according to a written statement by Dr. Cristen Herring, Auburn City Schools Superintendent.
Some Auburn school parents tell News 3 their children, some teachers, and some staff members are quarantining after potential exposures inside schools. Auburn School Board Member Bill Hutto released a statement to News 3 confirming students, teachers, and staff are already in quarantine.
“We do have some students, faculty, and staff currently in quarantine, but we anticipate they will be rejoining us soon on campus again soon. The faculty and staff at all of our campuses will continue to diligently implement the safety protocols such as wearing face coverings, washing hands, disinfecting, and social distancing to the extent practical,” said Hutto in his statement.
Auburn City Schools is not releasing the number of students and teachers in quarantine or the number of teachers, students, and staff who have tested positive for the virus after being at school.
“Auburn City Schools does not disclose information pertaining to the health of students or employees. In cases where staff are unable to report to work, substitutes are provided by the school system in order to maintain effective operations. When a case of any type is reported, the principal and school nurse complete the ADPH Report Card and communicate directly to families of students who were potentially exposed,” Dr. Herring said in her statement.
Dr. Herring did share Auburn City Schools are taking several precautions to protect students, teachers, and staff.
“We have a myriad of precautions in place including masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, contact tracing, and proper cleaning of affected classrooms and common areas to ensure the safety of all within our school communities,” said Dr. Herring in her statement.
News 3 spoke with Auburn’s Nurse Administrator, Brenda Lindahl, for an inside look at your child’s day before school started. Lindahl has 49 years of nursing experience with 25 years of nursing in the school setting; she’s focused on students’ physical and mental well-being. The goal is to make sure students feel safe, protected, and ready to learn while masking, social distancing, and hand-washing.
Dr. Herring emphasized the importance of parents working with the school system to identify potential problems before dropping their students off at school.
“We stress the importance of the partnership with parents and guardians to be the first line of defense when it comes to screening the symptoms of COVID-19 each morning before sending their student(s) to school because it is essential, if evidence of illness is presented, to keep them at home, not boarding buses or entering schools,” said Dr. Herring in her statement.
Kathy Powell, who also sits on the Auburn City School Board, says protocols are working to limit exposures. Powell says school administrators are balancing privacy with the public’s right to know.
“Auburn City Schools continues to work diligently to keep our students and staff safe during our return to schools. They are carefully following all protocols established to limit potential exposures within the schools. I trust our administration to strike the correct balance between maintaining the privacy of any who may be affected with sharing information with our stakeholders,” said Powell in her statement to News 3.
Opelika City Schools welcomed students back to the classroom on Wednesday. Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors released a statement on Thursday on how administrators are handling potential illnesses and exposures.
“The Opelika City Schools continue to follow the Alabama Department of Public Health
guidelines related to COVID-19. In the event we have students who are symptomatic or COVID-19
positive, we will notify the parents/guardians and the Alabama Department of Public Health. The
student and those in close contact with the student will be sent home until COVID-19 is confirmed or
another diagnosis is confirmed. If a student is sent home, we strongly encourage them to visit their
physician for further guidance,” said Dr. Neighbors in the statement.
Dr. Neighbors says Opelika City Schools will not be releasing a daily count of positive COVID-19 cases or number of students/teachers in quarantine.
“By publicizing the number of students or naming the school, the identity of students or teachers could be determined. If a positive test result occurs, the members of the classroom in that particular school will be notified by the principal. Confidentiality and privacy must be maintained for our students and teachers,”‘ said Dr. Neighbors in his statement.
News 3 will continue to update parents on this developing story.