Case numbers of COVID-19 in Cherokee County School District have significantly declined from a month ago, officials said Thursday.

But one elementary school student is hospitalized for the virus, CCSD Chief of Staff Mike McGowan told the Cherokee County school board and superintendent Thursday.

He did not say which school the child attends or any further information.

Thursday, the district’s total caseload was 228, about 600 fewer than last month, McGowan said.

“One case is too many, one hospitalization is too many, but this is much better news than we gave you last month,” he said at Thursday’s school board meeting.

The district’s weekly COVID-19 report showed 180 of those active cases were among students and 48 were among staff, down from 317 active student cases and 58 active cases among staff reported last week.

The district’s staffing had also improved, McGowan said: fill rates were at 89%, up from 66% a month ago.

The Georgia Department of Public Health’s top epidemiologist, Cherie Drenzek, reported Tuesday that statewide, COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools are making up about 60% of overall cases. But in Cherokee, school cases have dropped from about 50% to 28% of COVID-19 cases in the county, McGowan said.

The district has stopped sending central office staff to schools to cover classrooms, Superintendent Brian Hightower said. CCSD started covering school classrooms, cafeterias and bus routes with central office employees in late August.

“We do have route supervisors that are doing some driving, we’ve got some technicians that are doing some driving. We are trying to cut back on the double routing, but I know right now we’re still in the throes of that,” Hightower said, adding that the district recently hired nine backup bus drivers, and additional drivers are being trained.

Central office staff are still covering school cafeterias, but “the need is decreasing,” school district spokesperson Barbara Jacoby said.

School nutrition full-time and part-time staff, substitute and school meal monitors will receive a pay increase, Hightower said. Teachers who work in after school programs and the Instructional Extension Program (ExP) will also see a raise. The raises will affect about 1,200 current full-time, part-time, substitute and temporary CCSD employees, Jacoby said.

“We believe we can make this bump and it still be budget-neutral,” Hightower told the school board.

School nutrition is supported by customers and reimbursements from the federal government; after school programs are prepaid. The ExP program is funded by the state government.

The raises are:

♦ $12.59 starting pay for school nutrition full-time workers, up from $10.74.

♦ $12 for school nutrition part-time workers, up from $11.

♦ $12 for school nutrition substitute workers, up from $9.

♦ $10.50 for lunchroom monitors, up from $9.

♦ $12 for After School Program workers, up from $10.

♦ $17.50 for certified After School Program workers, up from $15.

♦ $40 for ExP workers, up from $30.

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