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A Dalton High School employee has tested positive for the new coronavirus (COVID-19) as students and staff who had interaction with the employee have been asked to self-quarantine until Friday, according to a letter from Principal Steve Bartoo obtained by the Daily Citizen-News.
The employee is "recovering at home and doing well," Bartoo wrote. Pat Holloway, Dalton Public Schools chief of staff, said the system could not identify the employee or say what position he or she has at the school.
The letter, which was addressed to high school students, parents and guardians, states that most students and staff at the school "were not in close contact with this employee so there are low risks to students and employees."
The employee last had interactions at the school on March 13, a day before the system canceled classes for two weeks due to the coronavirus. The system is on spring break the next week, so the earliest school could resume is April 6. Public health officials have advised those that had close interaction with the employee to "undergo home isolation" until this Friday, which is 14 days after their last interaction, Bartoo wrote. COVID-19 symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the school system was closed to students to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to clean and disinfect buildings, "the only public health recommendation for potentially exposed students and staff to this employee will be to continue home isolation through March 27," according to the letter.
Staff and students who had close interaction with this employee have been identified and are being notified by the Georgia Department of Public Health and "will be given specific directions regarding self-quarantine," according to the letter.
The letter states "the safety of our students and staff is always our top priority."
"We continue to be in contact with the Georgia Department of Public Health," Bartoo wrote. "Health officials are monitoring the situation very closely, and we are following public health guidelines. We will share any additional information with you as soon as it becomes available."
There have been two cases of COVID-19 in Whitfield County reported to the state health department. Statewide there have been 620 cases and 25 deaths attributed to COVID-19 as of 7 p.m. Sunday, according to the state health department.