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Elmore County schools report 16 staffers, 111 students positive for COVID-19

About a dozen parents protested the new Elmore County Public Schools mask mandate Friday, but...
About a dozen parents protested the new Elmore County Public Schools mask mandate Friday, but Superintendent Richard Dennis is leaving it in place.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Just a week into the new school year, Elmore County’s educators and many students were abruptly told to begin wearing masks starting Thursday. Superintendent Richard Dennis said the decision came after a “significant increase” in COVID-19 cases was reported.

Friday, Dennis released data showing just how many cases the public school system is dealing with; 111 students and 16 employees tested positive for the highly contagious virus in the last week.

The decision didn’t sit well with some parents, with around a dozen showing up at the school district’s central office Friday morning to protest the mask mandate.

“They’re not paying attention to what we want as parents,” said Matthew Spradley, “and we are here to try to get him to understand that this is about freedom of choice. We should have the choice of whether to wear it or not.”

Dennis met and spoke with some of the parents as they voiced their concerns, but the mask mandate remains in place.

Dennis said if the number of cases continues to rise and schools aren’t able to cover for the teacher and staff absences, the system will have no choice but to “shift to virtual platforms” until staff levels are available to support in-person learning.

“COVID is going to be a part of life at least for the foreseeable future,” Dennis explained, adding that ing that as cases rise and fall, his administration will need to make adjustments that help keep schools open and students learning in person.

“This means that policies may fluctuate between no masks, masks, and virtual school as necessary,” Dennis stated.

And the concern extends beyond the classroom. Each of the system’s four high schools is set to host its first football game of the season Friday night and the community will no doubt turn out in force to see the matchups.

Dennis is encouraging fans to take precautions.

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.