Troup County School System emphasizing health after shutting down 3 schools in the district

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LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – Rosemont Elementary School, Long Cane Elementary School and Long Cane Middle School have all transitioned to virtual learning until Aug. 23, 2021 due to a COVID-19 outbreak. About 2,000 students have switched to virtual learning for the remainder of the week. This decision came after each school had about 15-16 students who tested positive for the virus.

Superintendent of the Troup County School System, Dr. Brian Shumate, said he wanted to get ahead of the virus before it spiraled out of control.

“We were in a similar situation last year with several schools, we shut them down for a couple of days and then brought them back. We were able to survive so we’re hoping that we can do it a little bit at a time when necessary. Parents, of course, were very understanding. All we’re really trying to do is keep people safe,” said Shumate.

All three schools have been fogged, a chemical process that resembles fog and disinfects flat surfaces. All common spaces and classrooms are being fogged and custodians have been asked to pull out all chairs to ensure they are disinfected as well.

Shumate said the school system had prepared appropriately for this scenario prior to the start of the school year. All teachers at all three schools are teaching virtually from their classrooms via the Canvas Learning System.

He believes because of protocols like the mask mandate the spread of the virus has been limited. As of Aug. 18, 2021 the school system has been alerted that there have been 120 positive student cases which is about 1% of the students. The three schools that were shut down had the highest number of students testing positive.

TCSS provided all students with Chromebooks and is willing to work with students who may struggle with Internet connectivity.

“We really want the students to be present on their computers with their cameras on. You have to participate in the class to be counted present and we need instruction to continue while they’re at home,” said Shumate.

Teachers are also emphasizing safety and hope to have the students back in the classrooms once it is safe to do so.

Amy Taylor, the Fifth Grade English Language Arts and Writing Teacher at Long Cane Elementary School, said she appreciates having direct supervisors that emphasize health.

“I think that right now we have to put health first, of course. We’re going to continue education, we’re going to continue teaching even if virtual is a little more difficult, we’re willing to do it and we know how to do it and we’re going to do it,” said Taylor.

Taylor said many students were learning virtually last year so online learning is not a new concept for many.

In-person classes are set to resume on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, but may be pushed back if more students continue to test positive for COVID-19. Shumate said the situation will be reassessed on Aug. 22, 2021 and parents will be alerted then.

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