The campuses of the county high school and middle school are quiet again this week as Madison County continues to see a spike in COVID-19.

Both schools went to distance learning for the final week before Christmas break, while the county’s five elementary schools remain in-person with fewer cases and quarantines.

As of the latest school posting on Friday, Dec. 11, the school system reported 28 students and nine employees positive with COVID-19, with 498 students and 39 employees quarantined for exposure to the virus. The school system offers district-wide COVID-19 numbers, but does not break down those figures by school. The numbers are updated each Wednesday at madison.k12.ga.us.

Madison County School Superintendent Michael Williams said the high number of quarantines and the difficulty getting enough substitutes led to the virtual learning.

“This rise has increased the number of student and staff quarantines,” said Williams in a letter last week to students, staff and parents. “We are also experiencing a challenge securing substitutes for the middle school and high school.”

Williams said this week that the school system continually evaluates its policies and that changes to mask policies aren’t out of the question.

“We always evaluate and make adjustments,” said Williams, when asked about mask policies. “We will most definitely look at that.”

Williams said he looks forward to middle and high school students returning to in-person learning in January, but he said families need to have plans in case virtual learning continues.

“We will continue to monitor our COVID data,” he said. “We encourage you to have a plan should we need to extend digital learning into early January.

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in Madison County. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported that as of Dec. 15, there have been 259 new cases in the county over the past two weeks, which is a rate of 858 cases per 100,000 people. That rate was 285 per 100,000 people on Nov. 15. There have been 1,290 COVID-19 cases in Madison County since the pandemic began, with 15 deaths and 83 hospitalizations.

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