Thanksgiving COVID Spread Raises Concerns Over In-Person Classes

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UPDATE: “Hamilton County Schools will remain in Phase 3 for November 16-November 20 due to active case numbers remaining in Phase 3”

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Local and federal officials are warning Tennessee residents about the risk of spreading COVID-19 during the Thanksgiving holiday as the virus continues to surge through Southeast Tennessee.

Hamilton County health officials are warning that holiday parties with extended family members have the possibility to be super spreader events – saying that the larger the gathering, the higher the risk of getting the virus.

This has fueled speculation over whether Hamilton County schools will continue to hold classes in-person if COVID cases continue to climb. However, Jennifer Bronson, Lead COVID Response coordinator for Hamilton County schools, says that for the most part kids aren’t getting sick at school.

“I can tell you that spread within our buildings is incredibly low. So what we’re seeing more is transmissions outside of school – on the evenings and on the weekends and not actually from activities that are happening within the school buildings,” says Jennifer Bronson.

Bronson says that the school district is currently in phase three of their reopening process, and that the precautions that have been put in place have shown lots of signs of containing the spread in schools.

“Our best mitigating strategies continue to be mask wearing and social distancing. Our kids have been incredibly adaptive and flexible through the pandemic, I think we’re all very hopeful and encouraged by the fact that we we’ve been able to be on campus and learning for the last – um, we’re into quarter two so, I think that we’re very proud of the body of work that we’ve been able to do and proud that we’ve been able to have kids on campus,” says Bronson.

The Hamilton County school district says that while adjustments will be made if necessary, there are no plans to move students virtually following the thanksgiving holiday.