The number of COVID-19 cases quintupled in one week in Oak Ridge Schools. There were nine total cases in the schools on Wednesday, August 4. There were five times as many, 45, on Tuesday, August 10. Total cases include both current cases and recovered, and they include both student and staff cases.
Almost half of the school system’s total cases, 20, have been at Willow Brook Elementary School. Sixteen of those are considered current cases. Face masks are now required at Willow Brook. That change went into effect on Monday.
The next largest group of cases, 11, has been at Robertsville Middle School. Ten of those are current. No change in the face mask policy has been announced at Robertsville. With the exception of Willow Brook, face masks are optional in Oak Ridge Schools this school year after being required last year.
Oak Ridge High School has had eight student cases, with four of those current. Jefferson Middle School has five current cases, and Linden Elementary School has one.
Most of the COVID cases in Oak Ridge Schools, 40 of the 45 total, have been among students. Thirty-one of those are current.
Five of the cases reported by Oak Ridge Schools have been among staff members. All of those are current cases. Four of those are at Willow Brook, and one is at Robertsville.
It’s not clear what type of symptoms the students and staff are experiencing. That information, the outcome of individual cases, has not been reported.
It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday night how the students and staff were infected, whether at school or outside of school. Near the beginning of the winter peak in November, Oak Ridge Schools reported that about 80 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases had been exposed to the virus outside of school. It’s not clear if that has changed.
Health officials have said vaccines are the best tool to fight COVID. However, many students, those younger than 12 years old, are not eligible for vaccines. No information is available about the percentage of Oak Ridge students who are 12 years old and older and vaccinated.
Besides vaccines, experts have said face masks are a tool that can be used to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID. Last week, a small group of parents and two school board members asked the Oak Ridge Board of Education to require masks. They cited recommendations from federal health and medical organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, other parents have opposed a mask mandate, and the school board has not made any system-wide decision. But the language accompanying the implementation of masks at Willow Brook suggested that school officials could make school-by-school decisions.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Most news stories on Oak Ridge Today are free, brought to you by Oak Ridge Today with help from our advertisers, contributors, and subscribers. This is a free story. Thank you to our advertisers, contributors, and subscribers. You can see what we cover here.
Do you appreciate this story or our work in general? If so, please consider a monthly subscription to Oak Ridge Today. See our Subscribe page here. Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today!
Alternatively, you can donate to support our work here. Thank you for your support!
Copyright 2021 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.