Two Alabama schools go online after employee tests positive days before in-person classes start

Two Alabama schools go online after employee tests positive days before in-person classes start

Two Alabama schools will begin the school year with online courses after an employee connected to both schools tested positive for COVID-19 days before in-person instruction was set to start on Wednesday.

More than 1,200 students at Moulton Middle School and Moulton Elementary School in Lawrence County are shifting to online classes in a last-minute adjustment after the positive test result. Both schools in Facebook posts said online instruction is expected to last until Aug. 26, two weeks.

Both of the schools said they conferred with the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama State Superintendent in making the decision. The 12 other Lawrence County schools will move forward with reopening on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press

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School officials said in the Facebook posts that they were informed of the employee's positive test Tuesday afternoon and “immediately began working to determine who had been in close contact with that employee.”

Superintendent Jon Bret Smith told the Decatur Daily that the school notified 10 people who were in contact with the employee, who are now required to quarantine for two weeks. 

“Since these individuals must quarantine and cannot work, we do not have an adequate staff to offer traditional school until August 26th,” the schools’ Facebook posts read. 

The school said the employee was not at work Tuesday when some orientations were held.

In an earlier statement, which said “unforeseen circumstances” caused the school to move to online for two weeks, school officials said students could pick up Chromebooks to use for online learning during to-be-released time slots. 

The temporary last-minute move to online classes comes as schools across the nation are trying to decide whether to return to in-person instruction and balance that with safety amid the pandemic. Several schools including in Georgia and Mississippi either closed or required students to quarantine after positive cases emerged.