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State tallies 722 new COVID cases in public schools

Several local systems missing in count

Public schools across the state reported 722 new cases of coronavirus among students, staff and teachers during the last week, according to an online dashboard recently launched by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

That includes 5 cases in Jacksonville City Schools — but it’s clear that there are more cases in the county that have yet to be reported. There are five school systems in Calhoun County, and only one so far has submitted data to the system. Data from many other systems across the state is also missing.

“There was some confusion on the training,” said Roy Bennett, a spokesman for Oxford City Schools. “Our nurse has not been trained yet on how to submit the information.”

Bennett said there were “fewer than five” cases in Oxford schools last week. He noted that the data-posting requirement is just one of many new changes school systems are learning to handle this school year.

Anniston City Schools Superintendent Ray Hill said there was one new case in the system last week, likely caused by contact that occurred outside of school.

“We have a new nurse who just started last week and who hasn’t been trained on this yet,” Hill said.

Anniston has had trouble retaining its school nurses during the pandemic, due in part to higher demand for their skills.

In October, the board approved a contract that would allow the school system to hire nurses from a medical staffing company if needed. 

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.