Schools move to remote learning amid coronavirus outbreaks as Trump, DeVos, and McConnell push in-person reopening.

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Ignoring public health experts, data, and educators, President Trump, Education Secretary Betsy Devos, and their allies in Congress are months into a crusade to mandate the reopening of every school in the U.S. — in person — amid the coronavirus pandemic. A virus that has killed over 190,000 Americans and infected over 6 million, 500,000 of which are children. Instead of working with and funding states and school districts to safely educate students both virtually and/or in-person, the Administration is seeking to punish any school district that is not allowing in person attendance, even in communities that are seeing a wave of cases.

In an interview released this week with Bob Woodard from March, Trump acknowledged the risk to young people saying, “Just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older. Young people too, plenty of young people.” In public statements since, he’s regularly downplayed the risk to young people and repeatedly said he planned to withhold federal funding for any state or district that doesn’t reopen.

His Administration’s demands also made it into the most recent Senate Republican coronavirus relief bill, which requires school districts to have at least half of their students attending school in-person to access a large majority of the aid. This comes on top of other Trump allies in states like Florida whose governor, Ron DeSantis, threatened to withhold state funding if schools aren’t reopened.

The Senate bill comes four months after the House passed its coronavirus relief package — the HEROES Act — with targeted funding for K12 schools and another $1 trillion for states and municipalities that would have also been able to support schools. This aid would have helped schools build and refine their remote learning capabilities and put in place propper in-person safeguards. Yet, after its passage Trump and his allies in Congress were in no hurry to get anything passed.

Even with the enormous pressure from the administration to reopen, 73 percent of the 100 largest school districts in the country are conducting remote learning, impacting 8 million students, or over 16 percent of all students. And for good reason, at least six teachers have passed away since the start of the school year from the virus, two this week alone.

Schools reopened in September for many, but several states reopened last month with many schools doing it in-person. The results have not been pretty and provide a glimpse of what could come:

  • An increasing number of schools in states like Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Georgia were closing their doors after opening their classrooms up for in person learning and reverting to remote learning after student and staff outbreaks occurred last month according to a Wall Street Journal report.
  • At least seven teachers have died of coronavirus complications since August 1.
  • At least 22 students and school staff coronavirus deaths have been reported since August 1st when schools in some states began to reopen according to a National Education Association tracker.
  • Over 6,000 cases have been confirmed in over 2,400 schools according to the same tracker.
  • Florida has seen alarming spikes in cases and positivity rates amongst children since carelessly reopening schools in-person.

Trump’s reopening mandate comes at a moment when coronavirus child deaths have increased by 229 percent, children coronavirus hospitalizations are up 356 percent, and coronavirus cases have jumped by 720 percent since May. In addition to the risk it poses to young people, close to 20 percent of teachers are over the age of 55 and a July survey also showed that roughly 1 in 5 teachers said they would not return to work if their schools reopened.

Even with these warning signs the President ordered FEMA to stop paying for cloth face masks for schools and reiterated this week, “Go back to school. Go back to school. You ever see the statistics on young people? They have a great immune system… Thousands and thousands of people and they are not even affected…”

While some areas in the country may be ready to re-open with the appropriate precautions, it is clear that Trump and McConnell’s mandate will only create more chaos making it harder for young people to learn safely and effectively.

We will be spotting examples of school closures after reopening and related stories here every day:

Alabama

Limestone County school closes over COVID-19 concerns. “A Limestone County school announced Sunday it will close next week over mounting coronavirus fears, becoming the first known school in the state to shut its doors after reopening to students last week. Elkmont High School will be closed from Aug. 17 to Aug. 21, according to an email from Principal Elizabeth Cantrell. Four students at the school tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in around 40 students being sent home to self quarantine.” [AL.com, 08/16/2020]

Arizona

TUSD shuts down second school, partially closes another following positive COVID-19 cases. “TUSD has shut down its second school and two special education classes on another campus after two people — one child and one staffer — tested positive for COVID-19. Erickson Elementary, at 6750 E. Stella Road on Tucson’s southeast side closed it’s doors on Tuesday, August 25, until Sept. 7, after a student in the KIDCO program housed at the school tested positive for COVID-19. The Pima County Health Department recommended the school close for a 14-day quarantine period “out of an abundance of caution,” said spokeswoman Karla Escamilla.” [AZ Family, 08/26/2020]

Arkansas

Arkansas school abruptly closes after two test positive for COVID-19. “The Earle School District announced Thursday afternoon that Earle Elementary School would be closed to students indefinitely after a second person tested positive for COVID-19.” [WREG News Channel 3, 09/03/2020]

2 more Arkansas schools move classes online after staffers quarantined. “Two more public schools in Arkansas have temporarily halted in-person classes due to the coronavirus. Earle Elementary School has shifted to online-only classes until Sept. 17. Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said about half the school’s employees are in quarantine after possibly being exposed to the virus. Key, speaking at a news conference, said the high number of employees in quarantine “appears to be connected to out-of-school socialization” and not violations of school health guidelines. Jacksonville Middle School is moving all classes online Friday. Key said the school will determine over the weekend whether to resume in-person classes next week.” [ABC 7, 09/03/2020]

Colorado

Westminster High School temporarily moves to fully online learning after 254 students quarantined. “There are three confirmed COVID-19 cases at Westminster High School but that is not the reason the entire school went to remote learning. A cohort of 101 students and six staff members was exposed to the latest positive case, creating a total of 254 students required to quarantine. School officials decided to change the entire school over to remote learning due to lack of in-person staff availability. All students will be learning online until Sept. 22.” [Fox 31, 09/11/2020]

Connecticut

Multiple Schools Across Conn. Closed, Impacted Today Due to COVID-19 Cases. “East Hartford High School is closed today and tomorrow after a student tested positive for COVID-19. […] In Wallingford, Dag Hammarskjold Middle School will be closed until at least Wednesday after the superintendent said someone associated with the school tested positive for COVID-19. […] West Haven High School is using a distance learning schedule for today and tomorrow after school officials said a student tested positive for COVID-19. School officials said all athletic activities are canceled for today and tomorrow. Regular in-person classes resume on Wednesday. […] Jettie S. Tisdale School in Bridgeport is also closed today after the superintendent said a staff member tested positive for coronavirus. It’s unclear when the school will reopen. […] And in Killingly, Killingly High School will be closed today after a student tested positive there.” [NBC News, 09/14/2020]

About a dozen Connecticut schools have closed so far due to coronavirus cases; Gov. Ned Lamont says they shouldn’t shut down over a single case. “Two weeks into the school year, more than a dozen public schools across Connecticut have temporarily shut down in-person learning due to COVID-19 cases among students and staff, as administrators ask for consistency in school closure recommendations from the state. Gov. Ned Lamont said on WNPR Monday morning that schools should not shut down because of a single case — particularly at the K-8 level where most districts are cohorting students — and expanded on the topic during an afternoon press briefing.” [Hartford Courant, 09/14/2020]

Florida

Coronavirus cases spike among school-age children in Florida, while state orders some counties to keep data hidden. “One month into the forced reopening of Florida’s schools, dozens of classrooms — along with some entire schools — have been temporarily shuttered because of coronavirus outbreaks, and infections among school-age children have jumped 34 percent. But parents in many parts of the state don’t know if outbreaks of the virus are related to their own schools because the state ordered some counties to keep health data secret.” [The Washington Post, 09/09/2020]

Duval County mom notified 6 days after child exposed to COVID-19 at school. “The mother of a Duval County Public Schools student received a letter Tuesday from the local office of the Florida Department of Health, saying her child had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. While the letter was dated and received on Sep. 1, the parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said she later found out from the listed epidemiologist that the contact at Pine Estates Elementary School happened on Aug. 26.” [News4JAx, 09/02/2020]

Florida confirmed 9K new COVID-19 cases among children within 15 days as schools reopen. “Florida confirmed almost 9,000 new COVID-19 cases among children within 15 days in August as schools reopen, according to state data released Tuesday. The Florida Department of Health recorded a total of 48,730 confirmed coronavirus cases among children, according to a report with data through Monday. The data shows an increase of 8,995 confirmed cases since the previous report, which included data from 15 days earlier, on Aug. 9. For the 15 days before Aug. 9, the state confirmed 8,585 new COVID-19 cases among children. As of Monday, the state has confirmed 17,311 cases among those aged 14 to 17, 8,248 cases among those aged 11 to 13, 12,946 cases among those aged 5 to 10, 7,616 cases among those aged 1 to 4 and 2,609 cases among those less than 1 year old. Out of the 8,995 new cases in 15 days, more than 80 percent, or 7,282 cases, were discovered among children aged 5 to 17, the typical ages when children attend school. This aligns closely with the distribution of total cases on Aug. 9, when cases among those aged 5 to 17 amounted to about 78.5 percent of all child cases.” [The Hill, 08/25/2020]

What led to the first school shut down in Florida. “As of Monday morning, every school district in Florida has started its school year. Only schools in hard-hit Miami-Dade County did not return students to brick-and-mortar classrooms. But one Central Florida school was open Monday after it became the first school in the state to have closed due to COVID-19 after reopening for the year. According to sister station WKMG, Harmony Middle School in Osceola County shut its campus down for in-person learning for the next two weeks after 10 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.” [News4Jax, 08/31/2020]

Georgia

Coronavirus prompts closing of Georgia high school in district with over 1K in quarantine. “A Georgia school district that does not require masks has closed a high school and now has over 1,100 students and staff in quarantine due to the coronavirus.

The Cherokee County School District, based in Canton about 40 miles north of Atlanta, made the announcement Tuesday, just eight days after its schools reopened.” [NBC News, 08/12/2020]

Nine people test positive for coronavirus at Georgia school where photos of packed hallways went viral. “A cluster of coronavirus cases has emerged at a Georgia high school that drew national attention last week after students posted pictures and videos of their peers walking without masks in tightly packed hallways, according to a letter sent to parents over the weekend. Six students and three staff members at North Paulding High School have reported testing positive for the virus, Principal Gabe Carmona wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He said the infected people were in school “for at least some time” last week. Superintendent Brian Otott later announced that the school will close Monday and Tuesday and revert to virtual learning while the building is cleaned. The district will announce Tuesday evening whether in-person instruction will resume the next day, Otott wrote to parents Sunday in a second letter, shared by a WSB-TV reporter.” [The Washington Post, 08/09/2020]

Georgia second grader tests positive for coronavirus after first day of school, forcing class to quarantine. “Two suburban Atlanta school districts that began in-person classes Monday with mask-optional policies face more questions about COVID-19 safety protocols after on-campus pictures showed students packed shoulder-to-shoulder. The day after school resumed, one school announced a second grader tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the child’s teacher and classmates to be sent home to quarantine for two weeks, CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports. In Cherokee County, dozens of seniors gathered at two of the district’s six high schools to take traditional first-day-of-school senior photos, with students squeezing together in black outfits. No one in pictures at Sequoyah High School in Hickory Flat or Etowah High School in Woodstock wore a mask.” [CBS News, 08/05/2020]

260 employees in Georgia’s largest school district test positive for or exposed to coronavirus. “Around 260 employees in Georgia’s largest school district have been “excluded from work” after testing positive for the coronavirus or being exposed to the virus, the county told NBC News on Monday. Sloan Roach, a spokesperson for the Gwinnett County School District — which has an estimated 180,000 students in the Atlanta Metro area — said the number is an approximation of their record since last Thursday. She did not reply to a follow-up question about whether the number encompasses the total amount of employees sickened or exposed since the pandemic began.” [NBC News, 08/03/2020]

Iowa

More than a third of staff at elementary school quarantined, leaders forced to go remote. “Students at Crossroads Park Elementary in West Des Moines could be out of the classroom for two weeks. This after more than a third of the school’s staff was absent, quarantined for either COVID-19 infection or exposed to an infection. Leaders now say they will begin remote learning this week for all students, and have applied for a waiver from state leaders for distance learning to continue for at least two weeks.” [CBS 2 Iowa, 09/13/2020]

Monticello schools move to online-only classes Tuesday and Wednesday due to COVID-19 cases. “Monticello schools are moving to online only classes for Tuesday and Wednesday after four positive COVID-19 cases were reported. So far the school district said it has had to quarantine about 140 students. Several parents have also told the district their child is showing symptoms for the virus. The children have been tested, but the district is still waiting on the results. It said more students may be affected in the coming days.” [KCRG, 09/08/2020]

More than 100 Iowa schools have reported coronavirus cases, union says. “At least 107 Iowa schools have reported cases of COVID-19, according to a new tracker launched this week by an education employees’ union. At least 76 public school districts and four private schools have reported cases since Aug. 24, the reports compiled on behalf of the Iowa State Education Association show. There are more than 1,500 schools in 328 public districts in the state. The teachers’ union started the website after state officials said they would not be reporting school outbreaks or requiring school districts to do so. The union says it is confirming reports through official school publications or district officials before posting them.” [Des Moines Register, 09/03/2020]

Iowa Western blocks teacher’s call in sick strike, reports 16 coronavirus cases in 10 days. “Iowa Western Community College tried to organize a sick-out, but not before administrators found out. “To only have that many cases in the first 10 days is I think a testament to the things we’re doing to try to make the campus safe,” Iowa Western marketing and public relations vice president Don Kohler said. The school reported 16 cases on campus. Kohler said it’s a positive start to the school year, but the staff doesn’t appear to agree. In an email obtained by KETV Newswatch 7, it asks all faculty to call into work sick starting last Monday until administration gave professors the option to teach 100% online.” [KETV, 08/26/2020]

Iowa confirms first child death from COVID as schools reopen. “Public health officials say a young child in Iowa died due to complications from coronavirus in June, the state’s first death of a minor during the pandemic. The Iowa Department of Public Health says the state medical examiner concluded its case investigation into the death on Aug. 6 but it wasn’t reported in the state’s official statistics until Saturday, more than two weeks later. The department says it needed to make efforts to protect the child’s identity and notify the family before releasing the information to the public. The announcement comes one day before dozens of school districts are prepared to begin the school year on Monday.” [KCRG ABC 9, 08/23/2020]

Michigan

Harper Creek High School closes due to staff member testing positive for COVID-19. “Harper Creek Community Schools closed Friday, after a high school staff member tested positive for COVID-19 . Superintendent Robert Ridgeway sent a letter to parents Thursday, informing them of the test result and the closure.” [WWMT, 09/11/2020]

Michigan reports 11 coronavirus outbreaks at K-12 schools and 11 on college campuses “Eleven K-12 schools in Michigan have reported new or ongoing outbreaks of coronavirus over the past week, and there also are 11 outbreaks linked to college campuses, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website. They are among 210 outbreaks included in the state’s new online outbreak tracker. The data set lists the outbreaks by region, but does not offer specific locations or additional details, such as number of cases.” [MLive, 09/08/2020]

Two Catholic grade schools in St. Louis County shut down after possible coronavirus exposures. “Two Catholic schools in St. Louis County moved to remote learning this week because of possible exposures to COVID-19, according to the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Schools at Our Lady of Providence in Crestwood and St. Michael the Archangel in Shrewsbury will close for two weeks. A staff member who travels between the two schools has a presumed-positive case of COVID-19. St. Louis County health department officials recommended the temporary closures. The schools will be deep cleaned and students will attend classes virtually, according to an Archdiocese spokeswoman. Most public schools in St. Louis city and county are conducting classes virtually to start the 2020–2021 year. Nearly all private schools are offering an in-person option to students.” [St Louis Dispatch, 09/08/2020]

14 Michigan schools report coronavirus outbreaks, health officials say. “At least 14 schools in southeast Michigan have reported coronavirus outbreaks in the past two weeks, health officials say. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is currently gathering case counts tied to outbreaks in K-12 schools and universities, MDHHS spokesperson Lynn Sutfin told MLive Thursday, Aug. 20. Health officials would not name the schools that have reported outbreaks in Michigan. Sutfin told MLive that, as of Aug. 6, there were 14 school-related outbreaks reported by local health departments in the following regions:” [MLive, 08/20/2020]

Mississippi

MSDH: Two Gulf Coast counties report highest number of COVID-19 cases among teachers, students. “Schools in Jackson and Harrison counties have reported more coronavirus cases among teachers, staff and students, than any other county in Mississippi since children returned to class, according to newly-released data by the Mississippi State Department of Health. The breakdown, posted Tuesday evening, lists Jackson County with 116 total positive cases — including 83 students — and Harrison County with 88 total cases — with 60 from students. The information, compiled by MSDH from data supplied by 720 schools around the state, represents 74 of Mississippi’s 82 counties, and includes new cases from the previous week, quarantine numbers and total cases since school began. In the Jackson metro area, Rankin County has had more cases than Hinds or Madison. Twenty-two people have tested positive in that county since school began, with six of those being students. Hinds County has reported 16 people — including two students — contract and test positive for COVID-19. Seven people — all students — have tested positive for coronavirus in Madison County thus far” [WLBT, 08/26/2020] .

COVID-19 outbreak closes Mississippi elementary school just one week after it reopened. “Less than a week after a Lauderdale County elementary school opened its doors for the new school year, district officials closed the school after a COVID-19 outbreak occurred. The outbreak occurred at Southeast Elementary School in the Lauderdale County School District, forcing officials to shut down school buildings and transition to distance learning until Sept. 2, according to a letter from the superintendent. This is the first known Mississippi school to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak after reopening earlier this month.” [Mississippi Today, 08/19/2020]

More than 100 Mississippi students quarantined after classmates tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after school reopened. “Six students and a staff member in a Mississippi school district have tested positive for COVID-19 just weeks after in-person classes resumed, resulting in the quarantine of more than 100 others who had close contact with them. The Corinth School District confirmed Wednesday that a middle school student and an employee at an elementary school have both tested positive for COVID-19. The school district said contact tracing — which involves contacting any person who had been within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes — has been completed for both individuals. The district said that children who were notified will need to quarantine at home

for 14 days from the “last known contact” with an infected person.” [The Hill, 8/5/20]

MS: Mississippi reports coronavirus cases within schools in 71 of 82 counties. “The positive tests prompted 589 teachers and 2,035 students to be placed under quarantine. Health officials announced K-12 teachers and staff members in the state will now have access to free testing whether or not they have symptoms or know if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. The governor has faced criticism for reopening schools too soon amid the coronavirus outbreak and defying calls to delay the school year until Sept. 1.” [The Hill, 08/18/2020]

New Jersey

N.J. school district switches to remote classes after student tests positive for COVID-19. “A school district in Sussex County that reopened with a hybrid of in-person and remote classes is temporarily switching to virtual instruction after a student tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said. […] Officials announced a switch to remote learning for two weeks after a freshman at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools’ East Brunswick campus tested positive for the coronavirus. And Chatham High School also switched to remote instruction because a student tested positive, possibly after attending a weekend gathering. School schedules have also been changes in Little Silver and Howell due to positive tests. In Elizabeth, a high school was closed for a day for cleaning after a teacher tested positive for the coronavirus. While Elizabeth student are all remote, teachers have been coming to their classrooms to provide the virtual instruction.” [NJ.com, 09/13/2020]

N.J. reports 507 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths as schools alter in-person plans due to positive tests. “New Jersey reported 507 positive tests for the coronavirus and five new deaths on Thursday as the rate of transmission dropped slightly to 1.09 and at least three public school districts had to change plans for in-person classes due to student infections.” […] Chatham High School, the East Brunswick campus of Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools and Markham Place School in Little Silver have all had to alter schedules this week after being alerted to an infection involving a student.” [NJ.com, 09/10/2020]

New York

55 NYC School Staff Test Positive for COVID; Nearly Half of Students Opt for All-Remote. “One week before classes begin in New York City, 55 DOE employees in multiple boroughs have tested positive for COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio said; that’s out of nearly 17,000 school-based staff tested In-person learning for all New York City public schools is scheduled to resume Sept. 21; deaths of teachers in at least three other states since school started is generating a new wave of concerns New York’s COVID-19 rate of infection has been below 1 percent for more than a month, though officials are concerned about increasing risk accompanying an increase in closer-to-normal activities” [NBC News, 09/14/2020]

1st NYC public school closed over COVID-19 cases, city says. “The first New York City public school will close due to COVID-19 concerns before students even enter the building, a city official announced Friday. P.S. 811X — the Academy for Career and Living Skill — on Longfellow Avenue in the Bronx will close temporarily for 24 hours, with two confirmed cases in seven days that were not limited to one classroom or group. It’s the first time a school has closed, albeit temporarily, this fall.” [PIX 11, 09/11/2020]

Mohonasen School District looks to bring students back to class after administrator coronavirus case. “Mohonasen School District is promising to do better after an administrator tested positive for coronavirus. The district closed Friday after a group of 14 administrators were ordered to quarantine after the first full day of classes. One tested positive after a Luncheon Professional Development Day on Sept. 3.” [WNYT, 09/12/2020]

NYC delays return to public school classrooms due to COVID-19 safety concerns. “New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that he is delaying reopening the nation’s biggest public school system to in-person learning for two weeks after the city’s powerful teachers union complained about inadequate COVID-19 safeguards and threatened to strike. “What would have happened on Sept. 10 now happens on Sept. 21,” De Blasio said at a news conference. The announcement came as the battle over how best to reopen schools during a pandemic was being fought in districts across the country, often pitting teachers against President Donald Trump’s administration, which has been pushing hard to get pupils back into classrooms even in states that continue to see large numbers of new COVID-19 cases. In New York City, teachers and staff will be preparing classrooms from Sept. 10 to Sept. 15 so students can learn in safety, de Blasio said. Then from Sept. 16 to Sept. 18, classes will begin online during what de Blasio called a “transitional period.” [NBC News, 09/01/2020]

North Carolina

NC district started with all in-person classes. A third of its schools are now online. “A small western North Carolina school district that reopened for face-to-face classes last week has switched more than a third of its schools to online classes because so many employees are at home under quarantine. Macon County schools, about 300 miles west of Raleigh, is among a minority of North Carolina school districts that decided to open the school year on Aug. 17 with in-person classes instead of remote learning. The district has switched four of its 11 schools to online classes through Sept. 11, with elementary schools deciding Friday if they’ll stay with in-person classes.” [The News & Observer, 08/26/2020]

Students at school touted by Pence for reopening must quarantine due to COVID-19. “Fourth graders at a school in North Carolina have been asked to quarantine for 14 days after a student there tested positive for COVID-19. The school, a Thales Academy in Wake Forest, said it was notified on Monday that the student became infected after having contact with an infected family member. The student was asymptomatic and was last at school on Friday. Teachers who were exposed also will be quarantined. Thales Academy, a network of private non-sectarian community schools with eight locations in North Carolina, made the news last week after Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited a classroom and applauded the school for reopening.” [ABC News, 8/5/20]

Oklahoma

More Than 200 School Districts In Oklahoma Are Reporting COVID-19 Cases. “StateImpact has been tracking confirmed cases of COVID-19 in schools. So far, more than 230 cases have been discovered in more than 200 public school districts, charter and private schools. There are likely more. We’ll continue tracking confirmed cases and outbreaks at schools in this post.” [KOSU, 09/14/2020]

Atoka High School closing due to 2nd COVID-19 case. “Atoka High School announced they’ll be closing for two weeks due to a second confirmed COVID-19 case. In a statement on Facebook, the school said they’ll close starting Monday, August 24 and return Tuesday, September 8.” [KXII News 12, 08/22/2020]

Rhode Island

Providence school stops in-person learning after positive cases. “The Lincoln School in Providence has decided to cancel in-person learning for its Upper School for the rest of the week after learning that a second student has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Sophie Glenn Lau, the head of the school.” [WPRI, 9/15/2020]

South Carolina

DHEC: 296 COVID-19 cases associated with K-12 schools in SC. “On Friday, The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has announced 296 cases in schools across the state. In all, 195 cases reported were students and 101 cases reported were employees. These cases include both public and private schools.” [WIS TV, 09/12/2020]

A 28-year-old elementary teacher dies three days after coronavirus diagnosis in South Carolina. “An elementary school teacher died of coronavirus complications a week into the start of the school year in South Carolina. Demetria Bannister was diagnosed with the virus Friday and died Monday. The 28-year-old had taught at the Windsor Elementary School in Columbia for five years, CNN affiliate WIS reported. She started her third year of teaching third-grade students virtually on August 31.” [CNN, 09/10/2020]

Tennessee

Fairview High cancels football game, transitions to remote learning due to COVID-19 cases. “Fairview High School has called off their football game Friday night and will transition to remote learning next week due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases. Friday’s attendance rate was a major factor in the decision, with only 67 percent of students present. The campus will be closed for all weekend events. On Monday and Tuesday, all teachers and students will shift to remote learning. Anyone who is not quarantined and needs WiFi capability on Monday and Tuesday is encouraged to reach out to their grade level principal or Dr. Jones. A school district official says the closure will allow for cleaning and appropriate contact tracing by the Williamson County Health Department.” [Fox 17, 09/11/2020]

Tennessee reports at least 756 coronavirus cases at schools. “Tennessee reported on Wednesday that 756 students and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus at schools across the state, with more than half the districts reporting. Data on cases across all districts was supposed to be released Tuesday but was delayed because of technical difficulties, according to the Tennessee Department of Education. Officials now hope to have full reporting from all districts by Sept. 22. The cases reported Wednesday include 514 students and 242 staff.” [Fox 17, 09/10/2020]

Texas

Dallas-Fort Worth area high school goes all virtual after a dozen confirmed COVID-19 cases. “Keller ISD has announced that Fossil Ridge High School will pivot to virtual learning only for two-weeks after 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the school.” [NBCDFW, 9/15/2020]

Utah

Utah’s rate of new coronavirus cases rises back above 400, with 12 new outbreaks in schools. “Since public schools began opening on Aug. 13, there have been 27 outbreaks in schools, affecting 124 patients, with 12 of those new outbreaks reported in the past day alone. Those new outbreaks are linked to 19 new cases, UDOH reported. […] Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 169 patients infected in 38 school outbreaks statewide, with a median age of 17. Eight of those patients have been hospitalized, up one from Thursday; none has died.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 09/04/2020]

Draper charter is first to close after COVID-19 outbreak; Utah Military Academy follows. “A Draper charter has become the first school in Utah to be forced to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak. And a second charter has chosen to shut its doors after a smaller cluster of cases among staff. American Preparatory Academy’s Draper 1 campus shut down Tuesday and learning will now shift online, confirmed Carolyn Sharette, the charter’s executive director. The move comes after 15 students and staff there tested positive for the virus less than two weeks after it had reopened.” [The Salt Lake Tribune, 09/01/2020]

Utah school students, staff defying mask mandate could face charges: reports. “K-12 students and teachers in Utah could be charged with a misdemeanor for not wearing a mask, as they return to classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple reports. Gov. Gary Herbert’s office confirmed the potential penalty this week. While Utah doesn’t have a statewide mask mandate, he issued an order in July requiring all students, teachers, staff, and visitors to wear the face coverings on school property and buses. Leaders of schools and charters can decide whether to seek charges, a spokeswoman told the Salt Lake Tribune.” [Fox News, 08/21/2020]

Utah sees spike in teacher resignations due to COVID-19. “Just days before some kids in Utah go back to school, teachers are resigning in record numbers over safety concerns. Cathy Gray, a sixth-grade teacher in Salt Lake County, is also one of those teachers. She will be fined because of late resignation, but she says leaving the classroom was necessary to keep her and her students safe. “I worked really, really hard to get here, because this is my dream that had to be postponed for a few decades,” Gray said. “Walking away from this profession is the hardest thing I have ever done.” Like many other teachers, she is leaving a job she loves because of COVID-19. “I would not do it if I did not think it was in the best interest of kids and schools in general,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to keep kids safe at the level that their parents were expecting me to based on the plans that were put out.” Teachers like Gray are being fined $1,000 by their district if they resigned after a certain date.” [Fox 13 News Now, 08/16/2020]

Virginia

Spotswood Elementary closed due to potential outbreak. “ On Monday, Harrisonburg City Public Schools made the decision to close Spotswood Elementary School for the next seven days due to a potential COVID-19 outbreak. Michael Richards, division superintendent, said the school division has two protocols put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He said on Sunday night, the school went into containment mode after an employee reported being sick at the elementary school last week. Richards said the employee went to see their doctor and was told it is probable they are positive for COVID-19. That employee has been tested and awaiting test results.” [WHSV, 09/14/2020]

Liberty Middle School temporarily closed after three employees test positive for COVID-19. “Liberty Middle School has been temporarily closed due to three employees testing positive for COVID-19. The school will be closed through Wednesday, Sept. 9 to “protect the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff,” according to Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Hanover County Public Schools. The Hanover Health Department worked closely with HCPS to make the decision to close the location after “careful consideration.” The individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation, and those who were possibly exposed will remain in quarantine for 14 days, as required by official health guidance. There are currently at least 15 staff members who may have been exposed to the virus.” [WRIC, 09/07/2020]

Wisconsin

Janesville closes two schools to in-person learning after COVID-19 numbers rise. “The Janesville School District announced Monday that it has temporarily closed two of its 19 school buildings to in-person learning after the emergence of “several known positive cases” of the coronavirus. Roosevelt Elementary School and Craig High School closed at the end of the school day and will remain off-limits to students through at least Sept. 25. A district spokesman declined to say how many students at each school had tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, but said as of Monday morning six district students at the high school level and three students at the elementary level were positive.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 09/14/2020]

Brodhead High School COVID-19 outbreak prompts switch to virtual learning. “Brodhead High School switched to virtual learning Tuesday after an outbreak of COVID-19 among students. The news came in a press release sent Monday evening from the Green county Health Department. A total of seven students tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus. […] The district decided to switch the high school to virtual learning for the next 10 days. Officials say while students are home, the school building will be deep cleaned.” [WKOW ABC 27, 09/07/2020]

60 quarantined after 2 Medford students test positive for coronavirus. “Sixty people are in quarantine after two Medford school students tested positive for COVID-19. According to a post on the district’s Facebook page, the students identified 54 students and five teachers as close contacts” [WSAW, 09/08/2020]

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