Friday, 28 August 2020 14:23

Richmond County Schools will begin sharing COVID-19 case counts

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HAMLET — Beginning today, the Richmond County Schools district will begin sharing COVID-19 case counts at our local schools with the general public. A running tally of cases involving students and staff members across the school system can be viewed at our website and on our RCS Facebook page. The online spreadsheet will be updated daily. 

To date, the student positive cases have been those participating in remote learning. No students in the traditional setting (face-to-face) have tested positive. Also at this time, there have been four staff positive cases.

When students and staff are sent home, the exclusionary symptoms include the following: fever of 100.4 or higher, chills, recent loss of taste or smell, fatigue, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. It is recommended that students and staff visit their primary care physician for further evaluation. If the doctor provides an alternative diagnosis (an illness other than COVID-19), the student or staff member may return to school if they are fever-free for 24 hours.

If a positive COVID-19 diagnosis is rendered, or a suspected diagnosis, the timeline for return will be detailed by the school nurse.

If the Richmond County Health Department and Richmond County Schools find it necessary to quarantine a student or group of students, they will be able to participate in remote learning and return to school at the end of the quarantine. Again, the timeline for return will be detailed by the health department and the school nurse.

Due to the uniqueness of every situation, Richmond County Schools, in consultation with the local health department, will always respond thoughtfully and with the safety and well-being of students and staff in mind. Responses may include but are not limited to: relocating students and teachers to different classrooms, moving groups of students to remote instruction, and other appropriate responses.

If a student or staff member arrives with a fever or develops a fever throughout the school day and is sent home, the school will not immediately notify families that someone was sent home due to COVID-like symptoms. Our school nurses will follow normal “sick” protocols since we cannot assume that a fever will result in a COVID-19 positive case (we will still have cases of strep throat, flu, and other seasonal illnesses).

However, schools will encourage families to take their symptomatic child to be tested immediately for COVID-19 so that we can inform our families if there is a confirmed positive case. If a teacher is sent home, they will be asked to get tested for COVID-19 immediately. Test results may take the health department 24-48 hours to confirm and the school will notify affected families immediately. Additionally, contact tracing will be conducted.

All of the Richmond County Schools have a plan and pre-established communication channels for the school nurse to report a positive case to the local health department.

  • Once a case is confirmed as COVID-19, the local health department will determine and follow up with close contacts. Exposure to COVID-19 is defined as being within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes.
  • Each school will work closely with the local health department to decide if a classroom or entire school should be closed for a confirmed case.
  • Families and staff members will be notified of a confirmed COVID-19 case as soon as the local health department provides the school with information.
  • The CDC recommends that COVID-19 positive areas are closed to students and staff for a period of 24 hours before disinfecting begins. Once the area has been cleaned and sanitized, the area may remain empty for another 24 hours before students and staff may return to the disinfected area.
  • All classrooms and buses are cleaned and sanitized multiple times throughout each day. Student and staff members will start each day in a sanitized environment.

NOTE: Both schools and the Richmond County Health Department will take care to avoid disclosing personally identifiable information and will follow all applicable privacy requirements, including those of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Below is the link for our RCS Frequently Asked Questions document that explains our processes and procedures to many questions related to COVID-19.