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Joint COVID-19 exposure statement made, but not to the public - authorities say due to no threat

From WRIL -

WRIL was contacted by individuals in the Knox County community about two joint releases that were not made public in regard to possible COVID-19 exposure of faculty and staff at Central Elementary earlier in August not once, but twice. The statements were only released to the staff and faculty that may have be exposed.


In the essence of providing facts and clarity to the situation, we are presenting what we have found out in order to keep the public informed, which is what you have come to expect from us.


The Knox County Public School System and the Knox County Health Department sent out the first release on Tuesday August 11, 2020 in regard to staff members who “may have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.” In the release from KCHD Director Rebecca Rains and KCPS Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles, it is stated that the contact would have occurred on Thursday August 6th and Friday August 7th.

The release goes on to state that the Central Elementary staff has been following the recommended public health guidelines, mentions possible symptoms that may be experienced, and instructions on what to do in regard to self-isolation.

The second statement dated Friday August 14, 2020 states that the other possible exposure would have occurred on Tuesday August 11, 2020 at the school. We have also learned that a directive went out to all faculty and staff of Central Elementary to work from home on Monday, August 17, 2020.

We reached out to Rebecca Rains, the Director of the Knox County Health Department, who gave us a statement in regard to the incidents.

We do not release this type of information to the public. This is because the school is able to identify every person that may have had an exposure because they know who all of the staff are that work within that building. When we issue a press release to the general public, it is when everyone who may have had an exposure can not be easily identified. With only staff currently being present in the school, there was no threat to the general public identified, and therefore no release to the public was needed. Please let me know if you have any other questions.


We also understand that Frank Shelton, Director of Communications for the Knox County School System, has stated to The Mountain Advocate that the reason the statements were not made public is because there was no threat to the public.

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