Xernona Thomas, the Clarke County School District’s interim superintendent, was hospitalized with COVID-19 and is currently resting comfortably at home.
“I am humbled and grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers from this community,” Thomas said in a news release. “We have an enormous responsibility to identify the safest manner to return staff and students to our buildings. My own experience has helped the team recognize the challenges that accompany the pandemic.”
It didn’t go unnoticed that Thomas was absent from the school board’s July 9 meeting. Rumors circulated over the weekend that she had been hospitalized with COVID-19, but they were only confirmed by the district on Tuesday night. Federal health-care privacy laws generally prevent releasing medical information, and CCSD has a policy of not responding to requests for personal information about staff, but Thomas agreed to share her diagnosis with the public, according to Communications Manager Beth Moore.
Earlier Tuesday, the district released additional information about plans to reopen schools this fall. A called Board of Education meeting is set for Thursday to decide on a reopening date—the previously scheduled date of Aug. 3 or, more likely, pushing it back to Aug. 17 or Sept. 8, the Tuesday after Labor Day. Pushing the date back ideally could create time for the current COVID-19 spike to subside.
Flagpole joins others in wishing Thomas a quick and full recovery. Her illness underscores the importance of establishing detailed plans for dealing with the pandemic if and when schools reopen.
Aspects of those plans are still in flux, Moore told Flagpole, because federal and state guidance continues to change. The district’s reopening task force is taking input from parents and teachers and meeting with state public health officials for further guidance, she said.
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