Embry gives specifics on school COVID stats

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

On the heels of closing Shelbyville Central and Liberty School due to COVID-19 cases superintendent Don Embry released specifics late Friday on the number of students, faculty and other staff currently quarantined and testing positive for the coronavirus.

As of Friday, there were a total of 223 Bedford County students in quarantine and 14 students have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 46 faculty/staff quarantined and 12 have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Embry’s report.

Within the three Cascade schools in Wartrace, no faculty/staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus, as of Friday. There have been 11 elementary, 2 middle school students and 5 high schoolers quarantined.

At the three Community schools in Unionville, the superintendent logged 7 elementary, 3 middle and 4 high school students quarantined with no students having tested positive. Embry’s report does show that 1 elementary and 1 high school faculty/staff member have been quarantined and 1 faculty/staff member has tested positive.

In the city schools, Harris Middle has 21 students quarantined, no students tested positive, 2 faculty/staff quarantined and 0 faculty/staff testedpositive. Shelbyville Central currently has 47 students and 14 faculty/staff in quarantine. There have been 5 faculty/staff and 3 students test positive.

Out on Snell Road at Liberty, COVID-19 totals include 80 quarantined students and 8 testing positive, 13 faculty/staff quarantined and 4 testing positive.

As for the city elementary schools, South Side has 8 students in quarantine, with none testing positive, 5 faculty/staff in quarantine, with 2 testing positive. Thomas Magnet has 1 student in quarantine with none testing positive as of Friday, 1 faculty/staff member in quarantine and no adult positives.

East Side has 9 of its students in quarantine, 0 student positives and no staff/faculty positives or quarantines. Learning Way has 17 students quarantined, with 2 testing positive, 8 faculty/staff in quarantine, with no adult positives. Again, these weekly numbers are as of Friday afternoon. Eakin has 8 of its students in quarantine, 1 student testing positive, no faculty/staff quarantined or testing positive.

Bedford County’s Learning Academy (alternative school) has no students quarantined or positive, though 1 faculty member is quarantined. There are currently no adult staff/faculty positives at BCLA.

During the Aug. 18 school board meeting, Embry advised school board members he would keep schools open as long as possible. He reported at that meeting that since school began on Aug. 3, there had been 7 students who had tested positive for COVID-19 and 146 quarantined. He reported 52 staff/ faculty quarantined and 6 positives.

He advised school board members school would run on as long as possible. Embry told board members there are flow charts which must be kept on students and employees, as required by the Health Department; he invited board members to review those charts after the meeting.

If an employee is identified as a “close contact,” Embry said that person is quarantined for 14 days. He said a “close contact” is considered a person sitting 6-feet or closer for 10 minutes or more.

“So we’ve got administrative staff right now, entire staffs, 1 has tested positive, the others have been identified as close contacts. The positive test is isolated for 10 days; they have to be fever-free and no symptoms the last 24 hours before they can return back.”

There are no exceptions, he said, when someone comes into close contact; they’re quarantined for 14 days. So this has somewhat left the school system in the lurch when it comes to having enough teachers for the classrooms. As well, Embry said WillSub, the contracted company which provides potential substitute teachers, has a low pool from which to draw upon right now as well.

Shelbyville Central was to transition to all-virtual learning, beginning Monday. Students were to login to their computers and follow their normal schedules. An email was to be sent to all students for instructions and information.

Liberty School was to remain closed Monday and today. The school is scheduled to begin virtual instruction Wednesday through Friday with teachers reporting to work.

Other Bedford County schools are open as of press time today. More information about WIFI hot spots and picking up laptop computers is available at the bedfordk12tn.com.

Despite this likely being the most stressful year for education, Embry assured school board members that school is actually off to a good start. Calling the COVID-19 situation a “mess,” he said all things considered, school is going well.

“We’ve actually gotten off to a really good start. You have your normal problems and issues . . . traffic, trying to get everybody counted, fed and in the right place for the first week or two.”

Embry said he’s proud of how his principals and teachers have worked through this pandemic. “I want to compliment our teachers on how well they’ve done. They’re stressed to the max. We know that. We’re all stressed to the max. We’re all trying to find ways to alleviate that stress. A lot of times that stress comes from teachers, because they’re wanting to do the best job they possibly can. We all have self-imposed. self-inflicted stress, because we take pride in our jobs . . . what we do. Teachers are super proud of what they do; they want to make sure they do the right things by the kids. They feel it. We get that; we understand that. It’s getting better though. It will get better. I appreciate the effort of our teachers and what they’ve done.”

Schools are on break Aug. 31-Sept. 7 during the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, which begins Wednesday at the Celebration grounds.