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DeKalb high school athletes tests positive for COVID-19

March 18, 2020 Atlanta: A sign says it all to passing motorists at Murphey Candler Elementary School at 6775 S Goddard Road in Lithonia, DeKalb County on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the closure of all public elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools in Georgia that began Wednesday and will continue through the end of the month as the state scrambles to contain the coronavirus pandemic. School districts accounting for more than 1.7 million of Georgia‰Ûªs 1.8 million students had already suspended classes, though some rural schools have remained open. And most Georgia colleges shifted to online coursework last week. Just over two weeks after the first confirmed coronavirus case in Georgia, much of the state is practicing social distancing, with restaurants, theaters and other social gathering places closing down or reducing hours in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
March 18, 2020 Atlanta: A sign says it all to passing motorists at Murphey Candler Elementary School at 6775 S Goddard Road in Lithonia, DeKalb County on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the closure of all public elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools in Georgia that began Wednesday and will continue through the end of the month as the state scrambles to contain the coronavirus pandemic. School districts accounting for more than 1.7 million of Georgia‰Ûªs 1.8 million students had already suspended classes, though some rural schools have remained open. And most Georgia colleges shifted to online coursework last week. Just over two weeks after the first confirmed coronavirus case in Georgia, much of the state is practicing social distancing, with restaurants, theaters and other social gathering places closing down or reducing hours in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Student-athletes from two DeKalb County School District high schools have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting practices to be suspended this week until the second week in August.

A school district spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that football practice at Lakeside High School had been temporarily suspended.

“Out of an abundance of caution, practice at Lakeside High School was temporarily suspended,” she said in a statement, adding that the district continues to monitor data and follow the guidance of health professionals regarding the coronavirus.

Several Dunwoody High School athletes tested positive for COVID-19, according to an internal district memo. The memo didn’t specify the number of athletes who tested posted.

The district has only publicly confirmed one other positive test since the pandemic forced schools to switch online learning in March. An employee tested positive in late March.

School board member Joyce Morley said she has been made aware through district employees of several instances since the spring of buildings being shut down for disinfecting or food delivery bus routes temporarily suspended as positive results were relayed from the DeKalb County Department of Health.

“We have not been totally apprised of instances of positive COVID-19 tests,” Morley said Friday.

While school district officials have confirmed disinfecting taking place at Lithonia High School, several high schools and a stadium apparently have been closed and cleaned due to potential exposures, Morley said.

A DeKalb County Board of Health spokesman said Friday that the school district alerts them of positive cases involving students and staff. Health department officials also learn cases may involve the district through contact tracing, the process of identifying, assessing and managing people who have been exposed to the virus.

Disclosing the information could potentially be affected by interpretations of medical privacy laws, which restricts the disclosure of individual health information. District officials did not say whether information was being withheld for that reason.

“We don’t need to know the names, just send me the numbers,” Morley said. “We have a right to know the numbers. The people working in those buildings have a right to know where they’re going. People should not have to pit their lives and their health against their livelihood.”

School board vice chairwoman Vickie B. Turner has asked in board meetings that the district be transparent with information on how the coronavirus is affecting the school district, including positive test results.

“The more information that is afforded our stakeholders, the better they understand the decision to use a virtual platform to start the school year,” she said. “I understand we have to protect the identity of people. If we’ve had a rise, I don’t think this should be hidden.”

Many metro Atlanta school districts are opting to start the school year online as coronavirus infection rates in Georgia continue to rise. As of Friday, the state reported 186,352 confirmed cases and 3,752 deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.