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Bulloch County Schools add ‘vaccine holiday’ this Friday
Fewer COVID cases touched schools last week, but still more than 200
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The Bulloch County Schools system has added Gov. Brian Kemp’s state “vaccine holiday,” this Friday, to its calendar as a day when the schools will be closed.

Two weeks ago, Kemp announced the closing of nonessential state offices Sept. 3 as an added opportunity for state employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and as a reward for those who have already done so.

Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson, after conferring with Board of Education members and other leaders in the school district, made the decision Aug. 27 to close the schools on Friday, Sept. 3, according to a press release issued Saturday.

Added to what was already to be a four-day Labor Day holiday weekend for students and a three-day weekend for teachers and other faculty members, the day will allow school employees who want to get the COVID vaccine time to do so and parents of children age 12 and up who are eligible for vaccination to make decisions, stated the news release issued by Hayley Greene, the Bulloch County Schools public relations director.

“You are the best one to determine how to use your time and address your needs but I do encourage you to take this opportunity to do what you need to take care of yourself and your loved ones,” Wilson said in the release. “We care about you and want to support you, so please be aware of how people are being affected by COVID and consult your physician about whether the vaccine is appropriate for you.”

All after-school athletics and extracurricular events on Sept. 3 will continue as scheduled.

Students already had Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 6 and 7, as holidays. School system employees also have Monday off, but Tuesday, Sept. 7, was and remains an “in-service” day for teachers and other faculty members to work without students present.

Meanwhile, the Bulloch County Health Department will host a free vaccination clinic exclusively for Bulloch County Schools employees Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the Health Department’s Altman Street location.

This will be the fifth COVID vaccination clinic the school district has helped host for its employees since March 2021, Greene noted. The school district will also provide flu vaccine clinics for students and employees beginning in October.

Easing in cases

The Bulloch County Schools remain in session through Thursday, but then, with the addition of Friday off, students will have five consecutive days away and teachers four days away from school.

This comes after some easing appeared last week in the number of COVID-19 cases touching the schools, following the dramatic upsurge during the first three weeks of classes.

During school Week 4, Aug. 22-28, there were 245 confirmed cases among the school system’s students and employees. From these cases, 2,192 individual “close contacts” were reported. People with COVID-19 are required to isolate away from school, but precautionary quarantines are now optional for individuals who come into “close contact” with cases at school but who do not themselves exhibit systems.

Cases occurred last week among students or employees of all 15 campuses and at district office buildings, with only the Virtual Learning Program reporting no COVID cases.

The 245-case total was down from 468 cases in Week 3, the most so far, after 331 cases in Week 2 and 67 cases reported among students and school employees the first week of school.

Automated reporting

Beginning last Thursday, the school system took a further step in automating how parents and employees report close contacts with COVID-19 cases that occur way from school, Greene reported.

A new online survey tool, which can be found on all Bulloch County Schools district and individual school websites in the red “News Alert” section, is now the primary was to report these close contacts, without having to call a school nurse or office, Greene said.

The online survey is located on all district and school websites in the red news alert section. It should be used only for close contacts that occur away from school, and not to re-report cases occurring at school.

Meanwhile, the school system has increased the amount of information included in its automated notifications to parents about close contacts that occur at school. These now include the exact exposure date and a line to an online “quarantine calculator” for parents who choose to quarantine their child to use in planning a date to return to school.

The calculator is also available for employees to use, Greene said.

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