August 10, 2020
Dear Families of Oak Ridge Schools:
Our school district is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Tennessee Department of Health guidelines for the management of individuals who have been diagnosed with, or exposed to, COVID-19. Our school district follows these strict guidelines to protect the safety of our students, families, and staff.
Recently we received direction from the Anderson County Health Department about the protocols to follow for students and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms. Under these guidelines, students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms, as well as those who come into close contact with these individuals (defined as closer than 6′ for more than 10 minutes) will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine.
The quarantine may only be shortened for one of the following reasons:
• A medical provider diagnoses the COVID-like symptoms to be caused by a different medical condition; or
• The person with the COVID-19 symptoms receives a negative COVID-19 test result.
We are asking families to be consistent in keeping their child(ren) at home if they, or anyone in the home, exhibits any of the following COVID-19 symptoms:
• Fever or chills
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Muscle or body aches
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Nausea or vomiting
As you can see, the symptoms above are common during cold and flu seasons, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the new guidelines will require us to quarantine students and staff as mentioned above. As we continue to follow these guidelines, absences will be excused for any student who is either required to quarantine due to exposure or to isolate due to illness.
Additionally, with these new guidelines in mind, it may be necessary to consider an alternating A/B schedule at the elementary level as we are doing at the secondary level. We encourage elementary parents to start thinking about how they would plan for this if the elementary schools need to transition to the alternating A/B schedule.
Be assured that we worked hard to create a plan that allows each elementary student to attend school each day. Given the updated guidelines from the TN State Health Department, we are concerned that consistent social distancing of our students is not possible under our current plan due to limited space. We are further concerned that the new guidelines have the potential to lead to many students and staff being required to complete a 14-day quarantine.
We will monitor the overall effects of the new guidelines this week and will notify you as early as possible if it is necessary to transition to an alternating A/B schedule. We realize that such a change will create a challenge for our elementary families and will not make this change unless it is deemed essential.
As always, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safest environment possible while providing continuity of education to our students.
Bruce T. Borchers, Ph.D.