Masks aren’t required in the Cherokee County School District, and now more than 800 students and staff are in quarantine for coronavirus
Another day, another school district with hundreds of students and staff in quarantine because they reopened without the correct safety measures in place. And this one is a real doozy: In the Cherokee County School District in Georgia, kids went back to school last week and were not required to wear masks. Now, more than 800 students and staff have been ordered by the district to quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Schools have only been attempting to open for a few weeks, and we’ve already seen this story play out over and over (and over and over and over). But Cherokee County might just serve as the cautionary tale we need to convince schools planning to open in the future that they need to either have social distancing and mask policies in place, or go straight back to virtual learning. It started last week, when a single second grader tested positive for the coronavirus, and around 20 people were told to quarantine. As of Monday night, the district’s list of people who might have been exposed had grown to 826.
This situation “is why we put a system into place to quickly contact trace, mandate quarantines, notify parents and report cases and quarantines to the entire community,” spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby told local reporters. “We are not hesitating to quarantine students and staff who have had possible exposure to a student or staff member who has tested positive.”
The news of the 826 people in coronavirus quarantine comes after a photo taken at a high school in the Cherokee County district went viral. In the photo, a very large group of students posed shoulder-to-shoulder, packed into the frame, without a mask in sight. District officials say masks are not required, but they are recommended.
Even as this instance puts cases of quarantined students and teachers in Georgia into the thousands, Governor Brian Kemp, who has threatened to sue cities and counties in his state that mandate masks, held a press conference to pat himself on the back over school reopenings.
“I think quite honestly this week went real well other than a couple of virtual photos,” Gov. Kemp said on Monday.
On the other hand, we have parents of real students in the state, like Hilary Porterfield, who has a child in the Cherokee district. Porterfield said she’s “frustrated” with how schools in Georgia have handled the coronavirus pandemic, and that having literally thousands of people in quarantine after a week should be a “red flag” for the state.
“It’s just a matter of time before it’s out of control,” she said.