Mid-South school districts taking precautions ahead of fall break

Mid-South school districts taking precautions ahead of fall break

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department reported 33 new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, although health officials are explaining those deaths did not occur in the past 24 hours.

According to the health department, their surveillance team updated records Thursday and made changes to reflect the status of 33 people who died between Aug. 15th and Oct. 1.

“You have to make sure that the data that we have, eventually, the bottom line is correct. And it may be through other research, through better manpower searching through some of these pieces of information, we may find that there are more people than we didn’t realize that at first,” said Dr. Steven Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist for Baptist Memorial Health Care.

On Friday, Shelby County Schools reported 15 new COVID-19 cases among staff members, as students are still learning virtually, but did not release where those members worked.

New COVID-19 cluster confirmed in Shelby County Schools

The Shelby County Health Department says four cases have been discovered at one school, which was not publicly identified.

Dr. Steven Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist for Baptist Memorial Health Care, says if these cases are among teachers then those are more concerning.

“Teachers are older than students, of course. Some of them are up into the age group that might be at some increased risk, so teacher infections can be a lot more significant in terms of the damage it can do than the infection of the kid,” said Threlkeld.

Meanwhile, school districts surrounding Shelby County -- many of which have hybrid learning models allowing some students to be in the classroom -- are entering fall break.

Director of Millington Schools, James Griffin says they’re asking parents to be responsible during the break, especially if they’re traveling. Griffin says teachers plan to keep a close eye on students for COVID-19 symptoms when classes resume after the break.

“Keep your six-foot personal distance, social distance, mask up and wash your hands. And just be smart. Make good decisions that will make everyone successful over this fall break,” said James Griffin, Director of Millington Schools.

“We need to stay vigilant about the social distancing. Don’t stand two feet from somebody in the fast-food place in another city. Wear your mask in those sorts of situations and just do the things you’ve been doing here. Just don’t let the vacation completely give you a vacation from common sense to prevent this infection,” said Threlkeld.

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