Remote learning at Cherokee’s River Ridge High for two weeks due to COVID

Cherokee Schools said today it has closed in-person learning at River Ridge High School in Woodstock due to COVID-19.  The school will reopen for in-person classes on Monday, Nov. 30.
Cherokee Schools said today it has closed in-person learning at River Ridge High School in Woodstock due to COVID-19. The school will reopen for in-person classes on Monday, Nov. 30.

Woodstock school will reopen for in-person classes on Monday, Nov. 30.

Students and parents at River Ridge High in Cherokee County are learning that a spike in COVID-19 cases and related quarantines will close their Woodstock school for two weeks. This letter went out today:

On behalf of the Superintendent, this is to advise you that that we are, effective immediately, temporarily closing in-person learning at River Ridge High School. The school will reopen for in-person classes on Monday, Nov. 30.

River Ridge HS in-person students will learn from home from Monday, Nov. 16, through Friday, Nov. 20, with classwork provided through the Canvas learning management system in a manner similar to that which was utilized during the spring school closures. Teachers and staff will report to the campus next week and will be available online during regular school hours. The building will be thoroughly sanitized over this weekend in advance of staff returning. The closure has no effect on River Ridge HS students already enrolled in Digital Learning.

Students who need to pick up medication or other items that they must have during the closure should call the school’s front office on Monday to make an appointment. The school will be closed Nov. 23-27 for Thanksgiving Break. Extra-curricular athletic activities will continue after school with additional safety measures in place, but continuation will be closely monitored for possible cancellation; the River Ridge HS football game scheduled for this evening has been cancelled.

This school closure decision was made with the support of School Board Members and in consideration with the Department of Public Health. Over the past two weeks, the number of positive COVID-19 cases among River Ridge HS students and staff has increased to a total of 27, with 476 of its 1,489 in-person students now under precautionary quarantine, and additional tests pending that would further increase the quarantine total. We understand these closings create hardships and are disappointing to students who want to learn in-person as well as their families, but these are necessary measures to avoid potential spread within our schools.

The number of COVID-19 cases in both Cherokee County and across the country is on the rise, and what happens outside of our schools impacts what happens inside our schools and our ability to keep schools open.

We need everyone to please: stay home when you’re sick (use this checklist:); get tested if you’re symptomatic; report your child’s positive test to their school; if you are directed to quarantine, follow the instructions and limit interaction with non-family members; social distance when you can and wear a mask when you can’t.

- Barbara P. Jacoby, Chief Communications Officer, Cherokee County School District

Over the last week, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned the coronavirus is now being propelled by small gatherings of six to eight people at game nights and dinner parties. Suffering from COVID fatigue, Americans are weary of staying home and resuming socializing, said Fauci. Health experts say those gatherings are a factor in a record number of new COVID-19 cases Thursday, 160,000.

The frustration of Americans over months of social isolation may also explain why local high schools are seeing spikes requiring them to shut down and quarantine for two weeks..

Lambert High in Forsyth County reopened Wednesday after closing at the end of October due to COVID. “Our schools are being impacted by what our students are doing outside of school, particularly gatherings with no masks and no social distancing,” said Forsyth spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo. “We are trying to keep our schools healthy by quarantining students, but we have been informed that while these quarantined students are not at school, they are not staying at home — meeting for lunch, getting their license, gathering for parties, etc.”

That does not mean large gatherings are not also still a source of spread. A Halloween party hosted by a student’s family is blamed for a retreat to virtual learning this week at St. Pius X Catholic High School in DeKalb County. The AJC reports that, as of Monday, the private school had almost 50 active positive cases, an increase of 19 since the previous Friday, most of which was being attributed to the party.

St. Pius president Steve Spellman said 80 students attended a Halloween party hosted by the parents of a Pius sophomore. There were other large parties involving juniors and seniors, but most of the cases reported had been sophomores, said Spellman, in a Nov. 4 letter to families.

Spellman echoed the concern of other school leaders that campus efforts to keep students safe are being undermined but what kids are doing outside school, writing, “I am disappointed that despite the extraordinary effort and exorbitant expense to the school to ensure a safe environment, we have instances where safety protocols are totally ignored off school grounds."

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