TALIAFERRO COUNTY, (GA.)– Empty classrooms at Taliaferro County Schools after a COVID outbreak with at least four students and one teacher testing positive. The school’s superintendent and principal say the decision to close the doors for two weeks was heartbreaking, but necessary.
“It was really tough knowing that we had done so much and put so much in place and we still ended up in the same position,” Principal Cherita Williams said.
Principal Williams says since school began in July, they’ve closely followed COVID protocols.
Students’ temperatures are taken when they arrive, mask wearing and social distancing are strictly enforced, students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria, and the school is sanitized regularly.
“We’ve done just about everything I think we could do as a school to protect our kids,” Superintendent Allen Fort said.
Fort and Williams say they can enforce COVID protocols at school, but not off campus.
“One of the things that we have to understand is that we’re all responsible. The school can only do what the school can do. What happens outside in the community is what’s going to play a tremendous role,” Williams said.
For the time being, students will pick up and drop-off assignments outside the school’s front doors.
School officials will meet Friday the 13th to discuss whether they should continue online learning, or if it’s safe to return to face-to-face instruction on the 18th.
School leadership hopes to return to in-person learning.
“What I’m banking on is that this community loves its school,” Williams said. “So what we’re asking for in the next two weeks is for a whole community reset. For us to go back to mask wearing, distancing, watching where we’re going.”
Thursday, the school is hosting community wide COVID testing, and the following week, a vaccine drive.
They say it will take the whole community’s efforts to reopen the school doors.
“It’s everybody. It’s all of us doing our part and really paying attention to the things that we’re doing as individuals to make us all safer,” Williams said. “So mask wearing, getting the vaccine if you’re able to. Those are going to keep the school open.”