5,000+ students, staff in 4 Tennessee school districts quarantined – WKRN News 2

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nearly 1,500 students and staff contracted COVID-19 last week, according to the Tennessee Dept. of Health.

The state’s COVID-19 school dashboard shows about a thousand students tested positive for the virus last week, in addition to the more than 700 the week before, and staff totaling about 800 in the last two weeks.

But the numbers we’re not seeing are the number of students and staff quarantined due to exposure. Looking at just four of the biggest school districts in Middle Tennessee, that’s more than 5,000.

“We saw a spike the third week of October when we were coming out of fall break. I think a lot of people saw that,” said James Evans, a spokesperson for Rutherford County School District.

Here’s a closer look:

  • The Rutherford County School District is seeing its highest numbers with 297 new cases in the last two weeks, about 2,300 quarantined, and two schools currently closed.
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools has 153 new cases in the last two weeks, 984 quarantined, and they stopped phasing students 5-8th back into schools last month.
  • Sumner County Schools has reported 176 new cases in the last two weeks, would not tell News 2 how many are in quarantine, and does not have any schools closed currently.
  • Williamson County Schools has 73 new cases in the last two weeks, 2,413 quarantined, and eight schools closed.

“The biggest factor we’re looking at is the employees being able to cover the classroom, substitute fill rates,” Evans explained, “We will close a school if we think it’s necessary, at one point this year, we had seven schools on some type of distance learning.”

The good news is, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), most children aren’t ending up with severe cases or in the ICU.

However, News 2 has reported one known staff death in Rutherford County last month, a 53-year-old special education teacher with no underlying health conditions. Evans said she is one of two staff members that have died.

“The worry or concern which is appropriate is that you’ve got a child that is COVID-positive, doesn’t have very significant symptoms, but spreads the virus not only to other children but to the staff,” said Dr. Joseph Gigante, Professor of Pediatrics at VUMC.

Gigante said they have some children in the hospital, but most has underlying health conditions.

For the most part, children are getting a fever, but not many other common symptoms such as loss of taste or smell.

Gigante adds that masks work. A recent Vanderbilt study found that the counties that did not have mask mandates had higher numbers of cases than those that did.

With the exception of Davidson County never ending its mandate; Rutherford, Williamson, and Sumner Counties all re-instated their mask mandates at the end of October.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.