CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – Camden County Schools says it does not have a policy directing staff members to report if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, but it does advise staff to report exposures to their school principal.
Parents are now concerned if they will ever find out how many cases are in the schools. In fact, one parent took her child out of the Camden County school system because of that.
Kris Jackson said her son was going to attend St. Marys Middle School in Camden County, but the district’s reopening plan changed her mind.
“No. 1, the no mask requirement at the beginning of the school year, I thought was very dangerous,” Jackson explained.
The district later reversed its mask policy, making masks a requirement, but didn’t say whether the reversal was connected to positive cases.
Jackson sent News4Jax emails that she received from the school system, stating students whose doctors say classroom learning is not recommended can apply for online learning.
On July 15, the school district sent her another email, saying it’ll provide both in-person and virtual learning options for families who may not be ready for children to return to school.
Also concerning for Jackson was when she said the district announced it wouldn’t tell parents about positive cases in the school.
News4Jax went to question the superintendent at the school board on Tuesday and was given a letter that says:
“The Camden County School System does not have a policy telling staff or anyone else not to report if they have been exposed to Covid-19. Staff have been advised that they should report to their principal who will report to the District offices. The purpose is to ensure coordination with the Department of Public Health which is responsible for contact tracing throughout the community and to make sure that consistent and accurate information is provided to parents and staff.”
But the letter doesn’t answer why the district won’t report positive cases to the community.
Jackson also sent an open records request for information on cases to the district.
The district’s response was: “Agencies are not required to prepare new requests, thus there are no reports.”
“I think this school district likes when things are rosy and perfect, and the fact that they can’t control, this scares them,” Jackson said.
News4Jax emailed the school system multiple times with questions about cases, but it declined to comment.
According to a New York Times article, a confidential Aug. 5 email from Deputy Superintendent Jon Miller explicitly told school administrators: “Staff who test positive are not to notify any other staff members, parents of their students or any other person/entity that they may have exposed them.”
News4Jax obtained a copy of that email, which also says staff who test positive are only to tell their principals. It goes on to say it’s not the staff’s job to tell, and everyone who needs to know whether they’ve been exposed will be notified by the Department of Public Health through contact tracing.