Knox County Schools teachers having trouble getting COVID tests, board member says

Knox County Schools board member Jennifer Owen said teachers have told her they have had trouble finding appointments to get a COVID-19 test when sick.
Knox County Schools Questions and Answers
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 12:16 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County Schools teachers are having trouble getting appointments for COVID-19 tests, board member Jennifer Owen confirmed to WVLT News Thursday.

“Teachers have told me that they have had trouble finding appointments to get tested when they are sick,” Owen said.

This comes as Knox County Schools COVID dashboard states there are 648 active student cases and 64 active staff cases. This totals 712 active cases between students and staff. The case numbers over doubled from Tuesday to Wednesday, according to the dashboard.

According to previous data, the last peak Knox County Schools saw as far as case counts was 277 in January 2021.

Parents have told us they are pushing for more transparency regarding cases in schools. The Knox County Schools website states families will be notified of a confirmed case in their student’s school.

“The Knox County Health Department is responsible for contact tracing, and for communicating guidance to individuals who are identified as close contacts. KCS will support the process by providing relevant information to KCHD,” according to the school website.

On Friday, Superintendent Bob Thomas sent a note to KCS families saying “I would like to emphasize that if your student has tested positive for COVID-19, they are required to isolate and will not be allowed to return to school without documentation from a physician or the Health Department,” said Thomas. “Contact tracing is being led by the Knox County Health Department and we are providing relevant information to assist them in this process. The Health Department is responsible for communicating guidance to families if their child has been identified as a close contact. Student absences related to COVID-19 will be excused, and students will follow the school-based protocol for makeup work.”

As for quarantining, a spokesperson with Knox County Schools said in an email on Thursday afternoon “At this time, we do not have quarantine numbers; however, we are having some discussions around measures that would give us the ability to track student quarantines.”

The Knox County Health Department media relations contact also shared the volume of cases is county-wide and there’s been changes to contact tracing partners within KCS the health department does not have the capacity to pull the current number of those who have been asked to quarantine specifically within KCS.

“KCHD is reaching out to every positive case that we are informed of (county-wide) to learn of that individual’s close contacts. From there, TDH is reaching out to all identified close contacts to inform them of their need to quarantine (if they are not vaccinated),” said the KCHD spokesperson.

We have reached out to Thomas regarding an interview with more questions you all have. We are awaiting a response.

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