Oak Ridge Schools reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a record high.
That’s almost as many cases reported in one day as has been reported in each of the previous two weeks. Twelve cases were reported in each of the last two weeks.
Twenty-three new cases have been reported since Wednesday, according to an Oak Ridge Today tally.
With the new cases, the school system has reported 56 cases of COVID-19 since October 21. The surge started after fall break, although it’s not clear if the two events are connected.
The new cases reported Friday included four students at Oak Ridge High School, three students at Jefferson Middle School, three students at Robertsville Middle School, and a staff member at Woodland Elementary School.
Recently, the most cases, 11, have been reported among Jefferson Middle School students. Those 11 cases were reported in nine days, since Thursday, November 5.
In that same time, the second-highest number of cases, nine, were reported among Robertsville Middle School students.
Five cases were reported among Oak Ridge High School students.
The increase in cases among middle school students occurred after they returned to classes five days per week on Monday, November 2. But it’s not clear if the return to classes five days per week is connected to the increase in cases. On Friday, Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers said about 80 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases have been exposed to the virus outside of school, according to information provided by parents.
“With the many variables, it isn’t possible to determine just how many students have been confirmed to have COVID-19 due to a school exposure,” Borchers said in response to questions from Oak Ridge Today. “We are confident that the number is extremely low, and that our current precautions are proving to be effective in keeping our students and staff safe.”
A recent report by Vanderbilt University Medical Center Department of Health Policy in Nashville said that, so far, major clusters of COVID-19 have not been traced to school transmission.
The surge in cases in Oak Ridge Schools could be a reflection of what is happening across the country. Anderson and Roane counties have both set recent records for new daily cases, and deaths and hospitalizations have continued to tick up. Tennessee reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths and current hospitalizations on Wednesday, and the United States is setting records for new daily cases and current hospitalizations. Nationwide, cases have passed 150,000 new cases per day, current hospitalizations are over 60,000, and deaths are back over 1,000 per day.
Oak Ridge Schools reports the number of student and staff cases, and the number of current and recovered cases. The most recent information shows a total of 59 student cases and 12 staff cases since the school year started Wednesday, July 29. That’s 71 total. Of those, 39 cases are considered recovered, and 32 are current. It’s not clear if that information includes the new cases reported Friday. (Oak Ridge Today’s count is at 77.)
At least 25 cases have been reported at Oak Ridge High School since the start of the school year (21 students cases and four staff cases), and at least 17 have been reported at Jefferson Middle School (15 student cases and two staff cases). Robertsville Middle School (nine students, one staff) and Glenwood Elementary School (eight students, two staff) have reported 10 cases each.
Most other schools have reported between either two or three cases. Only Secret City Academy has reported no cases.
|School Week||Number of Cases|
|Week 1 (July 29-Aug. 4)||3|
|Week 2 (Aug 5-Aug 11)||0|
|Week 3 (Aug 12-Aug 18)||4|
|Week 4 (Aug 19-Aug 25)||1|
|Week 5 (Aug 26-Sept 1)||5|
|Week 6 (Sept 2-Sept 8)||0|
|Week 7 (Sept 9-Sept 15)||2|
|Week 8 (Sept 16-Sept 22)||2|
|Week 9 (Sept 23-Sept 29)||2|
|Week 10 (Sept 30-Oct 6)||0|
|Week 11 (Oct 7-Oct 13)||0|
|Week 12 (Oct 14-Oct 20)||2|
|Week 13 (Oct 21-Oct 27)||9|
|Week 14 (Oct 28-Nov 3)||12|
|Week 15 (Nov 4-Nov 10)||12|
|Week 16 (Nov 11-Nov 17 (partial week))||23|
The school system does not report information about the outcomes of individual cases, but early Friday afternoon, Borchers said that all confirmed cases have been relatively mild.
Borchers declined to say how many students and staff members in Oak Ridge Schools are in quarantine.
“We have chosen not to include the number of quarantined students and staff due to the fact that the Anderson County Health Department is the agency responsible for identifying close contacts and mandating individuals to quarantine,” the superintendent said.
He said the school system thoroughly disinfects all potentially affected areas of school buildings when a positive COVID-19 case is confirmed.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
You can contact John Huotari, owner and publisher of Oak Ridge Today, at (865) 951-9692 or [email protected]
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