MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WZTV) — About a week into classes and Rutherford County Schools is updating its contact tracing procedures based on guidance from the Tennessee Department of Health.
This comes as 250 students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and another 1,250 students who have come into contact with someone who possibly has the virus, but is not confirmed, have quarantines. Those students have transitioned to distance learning.
"Our schools will be working with those students and their families to transition them back to school, under the new guidance from the Tennessee Department of Health," the schools said in an email. "Only those who are displaying symptoms or who have been contacts of confirmed cases must remain in quarantine."
Quarantines in RCS have already forced two schools to close and move to distance learning.
RCS tells FOX 17 News that they've had one case where the school contacted a parent of a home-schooled child in error telling them their student might have come into contact with someone who was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and needed to quarantine. The schools said the student was listed on the class roster and was never withdrawn from the school.
"Once the principal became aware that the student was no longer attending school there, the principal reached out the mom personally to explain the error," the schools said.
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Based on guidance from state officials, RCS said those who have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must be quarantined.
"Previously, the guidance had been that anyone in contact with someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 had to be quarantined for 14 days," the schools said.
The schools said parents have expressed frustration over student quarantines and officials will remain vigilant to fight the spread of COVID-19.
About 20,000 of the district's 48,000 students are learning virtually right now.
"The school district has already shared information about suspected cases with the Health Department, as required, and we will continue to do so as new potential cases arise," the schools said. "The Health Department will then perform contact tracing if it determines there is an actual case of COVID-19."
*After receiving additional guidance from the Tennessee Department of Education, a school district spokesperson said Friday night all Rutherford County Schools will be open Monday for both distance learning and in-person learning, that includes Smyrna Elementary and Christiana Middle. Only those who are symptomatic will remain quarantined.*