Active cases of COVID-19 reached a new high for Morgan County Schools students and employees in data reported Monday, three days after the Alabama Department of Public Health elevated the county’s risk level from green for “low risk,” to red for “very high risk.”

In total, 25 students and employees have recently tested positive for COVID-19.

“This is the highest number of positive cases we’ve had,” spokeswoman Lisa Screws said. “But, we continue to base our instruction decisions on what’s happening at individual schools. The county is such a wide area, what’s happening in one spot doesn’t usually have any bearing on other locations.”

The 25 individuals who recently tested positive for COVID-19 include 13 on-campus students, 9 on-campus employees and three off-campus or remote individuals. Six of the cases, including all three remote or off-campus cases, are from Danville High, four cases are from Danville Middle, 11 are from Danville-Neel Elementary, 1 is from Falkville High, 2 are from Priceville High and one is from West Morgan Middle.

Screws said administrators are monitoring COVID-19 data within the district daily. The district posts the number of active cases to its website at morgank12.org, but declines to disclose the number of students and employees who are in quarantine.

Morgan schools were closed Monday and are again today for fall break. The system's students learn remotely on Wednesdays as they have been since school started in August. As a result, students will not return to in-person instruction until Thursday and schools will have been closed to students for five days before reopening.

Screws said it’s “impossible to say” if plans for any schools will be altered later in the week due to the rise in number of positive cases in the district.

“We’re taking it day by day,” she said.

Hartselle City Schools

The number of students and employees in quarantine is up recently in Hartselle City Schools, though the number of positive cases has held steady for about a week. As of Monday morning, Superintendent Dee Dee Jones said there are 79 individuals in quarantine and six active cases of COVID-19 in the district. This is up from 40 quarantines and five active cases on Wednesday, 17 quarantines and four positive cases on Sept. 28, and 11 quarantines and no active cases on Sept. 21.

The students and employees in quarantine come from every school in the district, and three central office employees also are in quarantine. The highest number of quarantines comes from Crestline Elementary, where there are 32 students and one staff member in quarantine. There are two positive cases of the virus at Hartselle High, and one each at Barkley Bridge Elementary, Crestline Elementary, F.E. Burleson Elementary and the central office.

The overall numbers of quarantines and positive cases in Hartselle City Schools remain lower than they were at the start of the school year, when at times, more than 200 students and employees were in quarantine due to illness or exposure to COVID-19.

Decatur City Schools

The number of quarantines in Decatur City Schools climbed to 449 as of Friday, including 410 students and 39 employees. There were 32 active cases of COVID-19 in the district as well, with 28 from students and four from employees.

One employee each at Decatur High, Austin Junior High, Austinville Elementary and Julian Harris Elementary recently tested positive for the virus. For students, there were five cases at Austin High, nine at Decatur High, three at Decatur Middle, three at Austin Middle, four at Austin Junior High, and one each at Eastwood Elementary, Julian Harris Elementary, West Decatur Elementary and Walter Jackson Elementary.

Schools will be closed all week for fall break and a three-day “trial run” for virtual learning. Employees will report to school Wednesday, Thursday and Friday while students learn remotely. Schools will reopen for in-person instruction on Oct. 19.

'Spike' in cases

As of Monday, Decatur Morgan Hospital has 22 confirmed COVID-19 inpatient and 10 presumed positive, including seven in intensive care and six on ventilators, President Kelli Powers said Monday at the weekly city/county briefing on the virus.

“We have seen a spike. We went up to as much as 24 (confirmed) late last week, and back down to 22 now, but as ... we saw in the data, we are seeing an increase in people with COVID-19 from Morgan County,” she said.

Powers said the intensive care unit has been full at Decatur Morgan Hospital because in addition to the seven COVID-19 patients who are in intensive care, others are sick with different illnesses after delaying care due to the pandemic.

“ … We really need the community to go and see your doctor, get your tests done early because you do not want to delay care and get sick to where you can’t recover,” Powers said.

Powers said nine hospital employees are quarantining due to testing positive for COVID-19, in addition to 14 employees who are self-monitoring.

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cassie.kuhn@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2469. Twitter @ DD_CassieKuhn.

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