Cherokee County ends in-person learning at high school due to COVID-19 spike

The Cherokee County School System has temporarily closed in-person learning for one high school after nearly 300 students and staff members had to be quarantined due to multiple positive COVID-19 cases.

In a letter released, Superintendent Dr. Brian Hightower says that Etowah High School will go to remote learning at the end of classes Tuesday. The change will be in effect until Monday, Aug. 31 at the earliest.

"This decision was not made lightly; it was made with the support of School Board Members, and was determined, as all of our quarantine decisions are made, in consideration with the Department of Public Health," Hightower said.

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The superintendent said the decision was made after the number of positive cases of COVID-19 at the school increased to 14, with another 15 students waiting on test results.


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Because of the confirmed cases, the school has placed 294 students and staff under quarantine.

"Should the pending tests prove positive, that total would increase dramatically," Hightower said.

Starting Wednesday, the school will be deep cleaned and teachers will return the next day to teach digitally. All extra-curricular activities will still continue after school "due to the very limited size of these groups and additional safety measures in place." Athletics will be continued but closely monitored.

Since Cherokee County Schools reopened, officials say there have been 59 positive COVID-19 tests confirmed among students and staff, leading to mandatory two-week quarantines for 925 students and staff members.

"As your Superintendent, I wear a mask whenever I cannot social distance. We know all parents do not believe the scientific research that indicates masks are beneficial, but I believe it and see masks as an important measure to help us keep schools open," Hightower said.

As the school system entered its second week of in-person classes, more than a dozen schools had at least one positive case of the virus.

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