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Limestone County school closes over COVID-19 concerns

A Limestone County school announced Sunday it will close next week over mounting coronavirus fears, becoming the first known school in the state to shut its doors after reopening to students last week.

Elkmont High School will be closed from Aug. 17 to Aug. 21, according to an email from Principal Elizabeth Cantrell. Four students at the school tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in around 40 students being sent home to self quarantine.

Limestone County Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse said in a statement Aug. 13 that 18 of those being sent home were members of the football team.

Cantrell said in her email to parents, staff and community members that the decision to close was not made lightly and officials would monitor the situation throughout the week.

“It is our greatest priority to provide a safe learning environment for our students, staff, and community,” said Cantrell in her email. “We will be reevaluating the situation at the conclusion of this week and we will be taking extra care to clean and sanitize the school this week as well.”

The closure comes amid continued debate across the state about whether schools should be reopened, leading to a policy split among Alabama’s various school systems.

Five students at Saraland High school were sent home last week to begin quarantine after being in close contact with someone who showed symptoms. The school began contact tracing and decided to stay open. “We had an individual who last night started developing symptoms of COVID-19,” Saraland City Schools Superintendent Aaron Milner told AL.com. “They had contracted it from a family member, it appears.”

Principal Cantrell said that students would be provided with “high-quality instruction virtually through google classroom.”

She added: “We will disperse devices to Seniors and Juniors who do not have a device or access to a device tonight from 4:30-5:30 for Seniors and 5:30-6:30 for Juniors. This pick up will be at the front of Elkmont High School. Additional plans for other grades will be sent out as soon as possible.”

The closure does not affect Elkmont Elementary.

Updated 8:16 p.m. to correctly state that five Saraland High School students were quarantined, not tested positive. We apologize for the error.


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