Schools already hit with virus outbreaks after Trump demands reopening

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Some schools in Indiana had to shut down just days after classes started.

The academic year has barely begun, yet several schools have already faced setbacks because of coronavirus outbreaks.

On Monday, Donald Trump reiterated his demand to "Open the Schools!" But Indiana, the first state in the nation to begin its school year, has already seen a number of coronavirus-related incidents.

Elwood Junior-Senior High School closed its doors on Monday just days after reopening after at least one staffer at the school tested positive for coronavirus and other staffers were forced to quarantine, the Indianapolis Star reported.

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The superintendent of the school, Joe Brown, sent a letter to parents over the weekend stating that the school's reopening plan was working even as he admitted that the district had "more positive cases from staff members than we anticipated." The school will hold virtual classes all week and plans to physically reopen next Monday.

On Thursday, the first day of class at Indiana's Greenfield Central Junior High School, health officials notified the school that a student who had attended classes that day tested positive for coronavirus, the New York Times reported.

Four students at Indiana's Lanesville Junior-Senior High School have tested positive since classes began on Wednesday, the Louisville Courier Journal reported on Saturday. The school was physically closed on Monday as students participated in virtual classes, and the school was scheduled to reopen on Tuesday. However, nearly 50 students will be quarantined when the school reopens.

In Georgia, 260 school employees in the state's largest school district were forced to quarantine because they either tested positive for coronavirus or were in close contact with someone who did, CNN reported on Monday. The Gwinnett County School District, located in the Atlanta suburbs, is scheduled to reopen for online classes on Aug. 12.

The Gwinnett County news follows a report of a coronavirus outbreak at a Georgia summer camp in June where 260 people tested positive for coronavirus, including almost half of the children between the ages of 6 and 17.

Shaker High School in Colonie, New York, was closed on Monday after a staffer with the school's Extended School Year program tested positive.

Two elementary schools in Campbell County, Virginia, were forced to shut their doors during the last week of summer school when two teachers tested positive for coronavirus, WSLS, a local NBC affiliate, reported on Thursday.

Trump's demand that schools reopen contradicted Dr. Deborah Birx, the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, who told CNN on Sunday that, "In the areas where we have this widespread case increase, we need to stop the cases, and then we can talk about safely reopening [schools]."

She added that in areas with high caseloads, "we are asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control."

In late July, Florida teachers sued the state to block an order forcing schools to reopen for in-person instruction in August. The state ordered that all schools need to reopen for all students and threatened to withhold funding from schools that did not comply. Teachers argued that the order does not comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, the American Federation of Teachers — a union representing 1.7 million school employees — issued a resolution on Tuesday supporting any chapter that decides to strike based on unsafe conditions.

More than 4.6 million people have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began, and at least 155,366 people have died.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.