COVID-19 cases are rising in public schools throughout the state, according to the latest update on Friday from the Alabama Department of Public Health, though numbers remain steady in Auburn and Opelika City Schools.
According to the ADPH’s COVID-19 Schools K-12 Dashboard, which was updated Friday, 93 COVID-19 cases were reported in Auburn City Schools this week, 62 cases were reported in Opelika City Schools, and 411 cases were reported in Lee County Schools.
Compared to last week’s report, new COVID-19 cases have remained the same in Auburn City Schools and decreased slightly in Opelika City Schools from 68 to 62. The ADPH listed Lee County Schools as having not reported their COVID-19 numbers last week.
Auburn City Schools and Opelika City Schools both implemented mask requirements within school buildings prior to the beginning of the school year, while Lee County Schools began the school year with an optional mask policy before they decided Aug. 20 to require masks to be worn inside all of its school buildings following the reporting of 105 positive COVID-19 cases within its schools from Aug. 9-13 and 88 more cases Aug. 16 and 17.
Several schools within the Lee County Schools system have had to transition to online learning for a limited time during the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year as a result of the increase in COVID-19 cases, including Smiths Station High School, West Smiths Station Elementary School, South Smiths Station Elementary School, Beulah Elementary School and Wacoochee Elementary School.
Statewide, reported COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in public schools over the past week, with last week’s report from the ADPH reporting 4,337 new cases and this week’s report showing 9,195 new cases, though part of the increase may be due to fewer schools having reported their numbers the prior week.
Last week, only 52 out of 143 school districts reported their COVID-19 case numbers, and the most recent report on Friday shows that 84 out of 143 school districts are now reporting, according to the ADPH.
According to guidance from the ADPH in its back-to-school plans for the 2021-2022 school year, those who test positive for COVID-19 must stay home for 10 days following the onset of symptoms or a positive test result, go for 24 hours without a fever or taking fever-reducing medications, and experience symptom improvement before returning from isolation.
Local school officials are continuing to encourage parents to remain vigilant and monitor their children for symptoms of COVID-19 everyday and allow them to stay home should they exhibit any symptoms.