Hamblen Task Force discusses outreach to Hispanic community

Three weeks into the school year, there are a total of 20 active cases of COVID-19 in the Hamblen County school system, but Dr. Jeff Perry, Hamblen County school superintendent, said the virus is being contained.

“Our efforts to keep the virus contained have been somewhat successful,” he said.

Perry said, right now, there are 11 students and nine staff members who are known that have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. They are currently in quarantine.

Perry said the vast majority of the cases, so far, have come from three clusters.

He said a total of three families account for half of the 10 positive cases.

Also, the vast majority of positive cases have not been through spread in the school system. It is coming from outside the system, he said.

He acknowledged there are still some outliers the school system may not know about.

“We don’t know everybody,” he said. “I think we know most of them.”

He said there are possibly unknown cases where a student or staff member were tested at a private practice, but the school system may not have been alerted to a positive test. The Hamblen County Department of Education posts every day the number of positive tests for that day.

A review of the positive cases shows the numbers have been across the board with no one school or grade being affected. Teachers, students and bus drivers have tested positive. There have been positive tests at both high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.

School officials in the past have said that cases within the school system should not be unexpected.

Perry said there are concerns he has daily about cases rising to where it stresses the school system.

The school system is also at a disadvantage.

Many of the school system’s substitute teachers were older and many opted out this year not to substitute.

“Our substitute pool has been somewhat compromised because of the virus,” he said.

That has made the school system repurpose some instructors to fill in as needed and to handle a couple of different hats in order to make sure the schools keep operating.

Perry said he has made a suggestion to principals and educators for this year as they attend schools and classes.

“You need to go to school every day thinking that you are infected and have to protect others,” he said.