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Carter County School Director discusses spike in COVID-19 cases

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, questions about where this leaves schools is a hot topic on people’s minds.
Tracy McAbee, director of Carter County Schools, meets with the Department of Health weekly to go over the latest number of cases and share any advice regarding schools.
McAbee met with the department on Friday afternoon and shared that the largest group of COVID-19 cases in the data is coming from those aged 20-29 years old.
“It is not clear if school is contributing to the community spread at this point,” he said. “There has been an uptick in cases, but I feel that we can proceed as we are and keep a close eye on cases at each school and reiterate the importance of the mitigation protocols.”
McAbee said he goes to the Department of Health for guidance.
“I’m not a medical professional like they are,” he said. “They look at the data and can give me advice.  I lean on them to guide me and direct me.”
Earlier this week Cloudland Elementary School switched to virtual learning after a number of staff/faculty at the school tested positive for the virus or were placed in quarantine. McAbee said this will extend most likely until around Nov. 2. While a shortage in substitute teachers has played a role in limiting the amount of staff, McAbee said a switch to virtual would still have occurred even without a substitute shortage.
While Cloudland Elementary is on virtual learning, it is the only school in the county currently doing so. Should an increase in cases be indicated as caused by schools and not community spread, more would go virtual.
McAbee explained that the largest concern right now is the unknown.
“Not knowing COVID-19 to begin with until this year, and now knowing what we do know about the flu season over the past few years, it is concerning,” he said. “It’s not that I’m concerned for what I know, it’s what I don’t know. It’s the concern over not knowing how the two are going to interact together.”
For the latest updates regarding schools, go to www.carterk12.net or check out the school system’s Facebook page.