Ben Hill Co. teachers, students test positive for COVID-19

Ben Hill Co. teachers, students test positive for COVID-19

FITZGERALD, Ga. (WALB) - More than a dozen Ben Hill County School District staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report provided to WALB through an Open Records Request.

The report from the school district’s attorney said that seven teachers have tested positive altogether, including four at Ben Hill Primary School.

The school district has had 18 total staff members test positive and 18 students test positive.

Here is a full breakdown of the numbers provided to WALB:

Teachers who have tested positive:

  • 1, Ben Hill Preschool
  • 4, Ben Hill Primary School
  • 1, Ben Hill Elementary School
  • 1, Fitzgerald High School

Staff members, including the teachers, who have tested positive:

  • 2, Ben Hill Preschool
  • 5, Ben Hill Primary School
  • 2, Ben Hill Elementary School
  • 1, Ben Hill Middle School
  • 4, Fitzgerald High School
  • 4, Transportation

Students who have tested positive:

  • 3, Ben Hill Primary School
  • 9, Ben Hill Elementary School

On Thursday afternoon, the school district released more information to WALB.

Starting Friday, the school system will begin sharing its COVID-19 data every Friday on its Facebook page and website.

The information given to WALB was a total from June 1-Aug. 18.

“We want to make sure to report on what we have as true cases at this time as we are thankful the prior COVID cases have returned to work and are doing great,” a school system spokesperson said. “At Ben Hill County Schools, we have worked diligently since March 2020 to put plans in place for our school year regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. These plans include one-to-one devices for all grades, updating procedures to include social distancing, lower gatherings of children in our lunchrooms, masking preferred for Prek-5 grades and mandated masking for all staff and 6-12 grades, weekly changes that conform to the guidelines laid out by our Department of Public Health and CDC and continued support of our face-to-face and virtual learning students.”

The school system said currently, 25 percent of students county-wide are participating in the virtual learning option.

“This option has been great for our students and parents as we are using Seesaw for our PreK-2 grades and Schoology 3-12 grades,” the spokesperson said. “These platforms allow our instructors to interact with our students and parents along with administering their daily work. We have one-to-one devices in all schools and are familiarizing our students with online platforms in preparation of any potential COVID shutdown. This continuous training will raise student readiness and allow for necessary rigor within the virtual program. Our goal is to maintain curriculum pacing for all students regardless of on-campus or virtual attendance.”

The school system has placed hand sanitizer stations at each school, along the hallways for easy access for students and staff. Plexiglass has been added to lunch counters and front offices the schools.

“Our contracted cleaning company, Cynderella’s Cleaning Services, has provided all teachers with a bottle of cleaning solution along with multiple daily cleanings per school. The cleaning service uses sprayers to disinfect the classroom or locations immediately if a teacher or student is symptomatic. All schools have new water bottle refill stations for contactless hydration. We are working closely with our Principals daily to keep safety measures for our staff and students the utmost highest priority,” the spokesperson said.

The school system also provided this statement to WALB:

“We will update you and our community on a weekly basis as things continue to change. We are being flexible and will continue to look for ways to deal with COVID-19. We have procedures in place for our staff and students. We are so thankful for our staff and students and our community during this time. We want to keep our students in school in a safe and healthy environment.”

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