As a group of John Sevier Elementary students were sent home Monday because of COVID-19 exposure from one staff member, officials say another Maryville City Schools employee and several online-only students also have tested positive.

MCS Director Mike Winstead said Tuesday more than one staff member working in the system had tested positive for COVID-19.

That employee works in maintenance, he said.

Another staff member who worked in a classroom tested positive and had potential exposure to a group of elementary students who now will have to take classes digitally for two weeks.

In total, 16 first grade students from a single classroom are now quarantining, Winstead said. MCS delivered iPads to their homes so they can continue classwork online.

The infected staff member contacted school leaders over the weekend of Aug. 1 and said she was showing several symptoms. She already had been tested and even though the results hadn’t returned, the school decided to suspend the in-person class.

After contact tracing was complete, Winstead said the students were the only ones who needed to quarantine.

But he also said there are other students who haven’t yet been to campus but also tested positive — full-time digital learners.

Those digital learners are currently in a 10-day isolation period.

MCS has needed to use its COVID-19 case response procedures more than once during the four days since school started back.

A student at Coulter Grove Intermediate School tested positive just a few days after the Maryville system opened July 30.

“It worked as we intended it to work,” Winstead said of the system’s virus policies. “We’ve got some things in place, preventative type measures ... but we know that, (even) with our best efforts, we’re going to have asymptomatic positive individuals in our building.”

He said following positive tests, it’s important to have “control” and minimize impact.

Positive tests and other data mean Maryville is going to take a serious look at its staggered opening schedule.

“We’re working on two-week intervals,” Winstead explained, adding an announcement for what things will look like the week of Aug. 17-24 is forthcoming.

“We will give strong consideration to keep the staggered schedule if that’s what the data warrants,” he said. “We are looking at everything we can each day, both school data and countywide data and talking to our principals and teachers, seeing how this is working and if we need to tweak anything.”

Schools across Blount continue to work with the local and state health departments to confirm and monitor positive student tests.

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

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