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Fourth COVID-19 case reported; SCS students to return April 6

A fourth case of the coronavirus has been confirmed in Shelby County, but the case is unconnected to the previous three, officials said.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), we announced three. We now have four, and the fourth case is not connected to cases one and two…which are connected.

“It is not connected to case number three. But like case number three…this particular case number four, we believe, is also associated with travel,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, director of Shelby County Health Department.

Health officials believe the COVID-19 virus was contracted when someone visiting the fourth victim’s home was ill. The visitor contracted outside of Shelby County.

While there is still no evidence of community-based transmission, Haushalter said, “however… it is a red flag because we’re beginning to have more cases that are not connected.

“This indicates that we can anticipate more cases as we move forward,” she said. “For both cases number three and number four, we are still engaging in the contact investigation. That’s a very lengthy investigation in partnership with the individual and others that have knowledge of where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with.

“And then, there’s a need to identify those contacts, interview those contacts, prioritize their risks, and then place them in quarantine.”

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray took the occasion to announce that students’ return to school has been pushed back from the originally projected date of Monday, March 30 to Monday, April 6.

In addition, some 60 sites will be opened throughout the county for students to pick up food packages for children who may be food insecure.

“The health and safety of our students, their families and staff members continue to be our highest priority,” Ray said.

Many students, Ray said, have been asking about prom, graduation and school activities. All school activities, practices, performances, parent meets are postponed during this school closure.

Other updates for SCS include:

  • The ACT April 4 test date has been postponed until June 18.
  • Starting Monday, March 23, the 60 walk-up or drive-up food distribution sites will open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., for students 18 and under. Charter, private, all students are included.
  • Parents, starting late Wednesday, March 18, can access resources to engage students with learning guides for all grades, in English, Language Arts, Math, Science, and a hybrid plan with virtual learning opportunities through Voices of Shelby County Schools Broadcast Services.
  • Students who do not have digital access at the home can pick up instructional support lessons at the site where food is being picked up.

Ray expressed concern about the digital divide and the level to which “this crisis has amplified the digital divide.”

The goal moving forward, he said, is to have a digital device in the hands of each student. He called on corporate and community partners to financially support the effort to level the playing field for students who do not have computer access at home.

When full school operations resumed, the administration will look at postponements. However, Ray said the possibility must be considered that this may be the end of the school year.

Additional information on food distribution, instructional support, and facts regarding the coronavirus can be found on the district’s website: scsk12.org.

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