The decision for SCCPSS schools to remain in virtual learning mode for the time being has been made for the safety of both students and staff. Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett has stated that “data will determine the date" for students to return to in person learning. The data provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health at this time shows our county is a long way from what would be considered low community spread. The Operational Update presented to the Board at the August 12, 2020 meeting provides more information on the Community Transmission Index.
The Community Transmission Index can help you better understand how widely COVID-19 is spreading in your area. A lower rate means you have a lower risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. A high rate means there is significant evidence of community spread and you should take precautions against infection. Please see an explanation of how the Community Transmission Index is calculated in the slide below.
According to CensusReporter.com, Chatham County has a population of 289,195. In the most recent report released by the Coastal Health District on August 31, 2020, Chatham County had an average daily case rate of 16.4 per 100,000. As you can see in the following chart – numbers have decreased each week since August 10th.
On August 31st, the Community Transmission Rate was reported as 255.7 cases in the last 14 days. Those numbers have steadily declined since July 27th when our county had a Community Transmission Rate of 602.7 cases.
Those numbers indicate our community is moving in the right direction – but we still have far to go to reach what would be viewed as low community spread of between 0 and 10 newly confirmed cases per 100,000 residents over a 14 day period. Our average daily case rate to reach that threshold would need to be no more than two new cases per day or no more than 58 new cases over a two-week span of time.
Chatham County's current daily case rate still places our community in the Coastal Health District's Orange level for Community Spread Risk and we would ideally return to in-person teaching and learning once our community reaches the Green level. In preparation for a return, district staff are working on a phased return plan for students that could begin before we reach the green level if we see a consistent trend in the right direction. That phased re-entry plan would start with bringing our youngest students and students with special needs back into the schoolhouse first, with a phased reentry for older students taking place over succeeding weeks. Please continue to monitor district communication channels for the latest information.