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More than 1800 cases of COVID-19 reported in Pima County Schools this fall semester

Posted at 10:18 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 00:18:15-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Brian Eller has the job of liaison between the Health Department and all 16 school districts, private and charter schools in Pima County.

"Since August 'til the current day, we've a total of 1,807 school cases that have been reported through the school system."

He said those cases resulted in a total of 31 outbreaks at various schools.

An outbreak, Eller said, is defined by transmission of the virus between at least two people.

"It's shown that there's some connection between those two individuals and somehow that's related to school."

Before districts decided on a semi-return to class based on hybrid models, some teachers protested, out of fear they would be exposed.

Eller said that wasn't as much of a problem at schools across Pima County as anticipated.

"We've seen really low rates of student-to-teacher transmission."

Most teachers who reported positive were likely infected at social at gatherings or between each other in fact, according to Eller.

"So that means that teachers got together in a lunchroom and they sat a little bit closer than 6-feet and there was an outbreak as a result of that."

While cases were low, he says some student-to-teacher transmissions did happen.

"A lot of those are with exceptional-education classrooms where it's really difficult to implement mitigation."

Given the challenges they faced this fall semester, Eller said schools, students and staff rose to the occasion.

"I can say without a doubt, our schools have done an incredible job under an immense amount of pressure. 06sec

Most districts are returning in the spring remotely, some schools will remain on the hybrid model.

Eller said how quickly districts could go back to class depends on what happens right now.

"What's going to happen during the holidays and how well is the community going to implement mitigation during social gatherings."

He said the health department will support schools no matter how they decide to conduct classes in the spring.