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KCS parents push for more transparency with COVID dashboard

Knox County Schools families have gotten more transparency about coronavirus cases in the school system, but some parents said these efforts aren’t enough.
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 8:24 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County Schools families have gotten more transparency about coronavirus cases in the school system, but some parents said these efforts aren’t enough.

“Fatality is not my measuring stick either. I don’t want my child sick,” explained Chrissi Schnell. “I don’t want my child to have permanent lung damage. I don’t want any of the things COVID could possibly do to my child down the road for her to have to deal with.”

Schnell is one Knox County Schools mom who still has questions regarding the COVID dashboard since it shows students and staff across the school system who test positive for COVID-19 and are active cases.

“That cannot help a parent make any decisions about their school,” said Kelly Johnson, a mom of three students at three different schools in KCS.

Johnson and Schnell both have students in elementary school who aren’t old enough to get the vaccine.

They told me they supported Knox County Schools COVID response last school year with stricter guidelines.

“It is a little odd because the risk is more serious now to students than it was at many times last year, yet it appears to be business as usual,” said Schnell.

This year families are notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in their school, but Knox County Health Department is responsible for contact tracing and communicating guidance to anyone who is a close contact.

“They need to go back to letting school nurses contact trace because they can do it much quicker. The health department also has the University of Tennessee and everybody else,” said Johnson.

KCS will support the process by providing relevant information to the Knox County Health Department.

“I’m hoping that Knox County Schools will give us enough data and information to make a wise decision. I’m not sure that’s going to happen,” said Schnell.

If not, Schnell has a decision to make for her youngest.

“If the numbers continue to grow and we can see a change from week to week that doesn’t look like it’s steady or declining that definitely indicates that we’re not controlling something well. And if we’re not controlling it in the schools well, then I will as a parent have to control it myself by pulling my child out,” said Schnell.

As of Monday, the school reported 221 active cases for the coronavirus in all Knox County Schools among students and staff.

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