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Madison school district quarantines 170 due to COVID-19

MADISON – Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols provided more details Friday afternoon following the announcement that nine Bob Jones High School football players tested positive for COVID-19.

The presence of the virus caused the cancellation of tonight’s homecoming game against Florence, and next week’s game against Auburn. Dr. Nichols also said high school students will be delayed by one week from re-entering traditional classes. They were set to start back on Monday.

“By now, you are aware of the announcement I sent out today concerning the cancellation of the Bob Jones High School football games and the change in our secondary schedule,” Dr. Nichols stated in an email to parents. “This week, we returned our middle school students on a rotational schedule and the elementary schools completed their first full week of school-based learning.

“For this week, we have a total of 15 (fourteen are students and one employee spread across five schools) confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in our district. We have 170 quarantined that are spread across seven schools from being associated with positive or presumptive cases.”

Here is the breakdown:
Positive Cases:
Columbia – 1 student
Rainbow – 1 student
Liberty – 1 student and 1 teacher
Bob Jones – 9 students
James Clemens – 2 students

Quarantined:
Columbia – 5 students and 1 teacher
Mill Creek – 1 student
Rainbow – 1 student
Discovery – 21 students
Liberty – 10 students
Bob Jones – 120 students and 10 teachers
James Clemens – 1 teacher

“I know delaying the start of the high school rotation is not what any of us wanted this year. However, due to the loss of teaching staff to quarantine and the shortage of substitute teachers, I felt the need to delay the high school rotation,” Dr. Nichols explained. “Madison is a small community and we are not sure how these positive cases at Bob Jones could affect our teaching staff in other schools. Currently, 37 of the Bob Jones and James Clemens teaching staff have accepted extra teaching assignments on their planning period to accommodate the scheduling demands of school-based and virtual classes. Due to this number of extra teaching periods, we cannot easily cover teaching positions vacant due to the effects of quarantined staff. School principals have reported difficulties in acquiring substitute teachers this year. Our substitute teacher pool is very low compared to previous years.”

Nichols said the Alabama Department of Public Health is currently active in the contact tracing of these cases and will update us as needed. “As I have stated from the beginning of the school year, we will be flexible in our schedule and our plans to meet this ever-changing issue. If we find out next week that the need for quarantining is not as widespread on our teaching staff, we can adjust our school-based plans. Our goal is to return our secondary students to everyday school-based learning like our elementary students.”

Elementary students returned to school campuses on Sept. 8, followed by middle school students on Monday.

“Although we have had these increases of cases this week, I want to thank our staff and teachers for doing a great job of following the procedures and protocols we set for the district,” Nichols added. “I want to make sure all of you know that this sudden spike in the BJHS football team is not because the coaching staff did not follow our procedures. All of our coaches in the district have done a great job since the summer of adhering to the AHSAA and Madison City guidelines.”

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