CAIRO — Positive cases of COVID-19 among Grady County students increased for a third straight week as the school system reported more than 140 individuals were in quarantine Tuesday.

Eight county students have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to data released by Grady County Schools, and 134 of their peers have been quarantined due to possible exposure to the virus.

Positive cases have been recorded at Northside Elementary, where four students were diagnosed with the virus, leading to 38 children being quarantined. Another two students at Shiver School were found to have tested positive as well, leading to 19 of their peers being sent home.

Additional positive cases were found at Southside Elementary and Washington Middle School, resulting in quarantines of 21 students and 47 students, respectively.

Superintendent Kermit Gilliard said at Tuesday's meeting of the Grady County Board of Education that none of the positive cases are believed to have been contracted at school.

"It's all outside events," he told school board members.

"We're safe in school," said school board member John White. "It's just out there in the world where our issue lies."

School district officials are also keeping an eye on a Halloween party that was attended by several high school students that could have potentially spread the virus further, though Cairo High School did not report any positive cases this week and had just five students quarantined.

Among employees, a combined eight staff members at Northside Elementary, Southside Elementary, Shiver School and Washington Middle School have been quarantined as well, though no positive cases have been reported.

Eastside Elementary and Whigham School reported smaller quarantines of three students or less.

Gilliard said the school district is "very close" to being fully prepared to implement a stay-at-home order should the need arise in the coming weeks.

The superintendent said he hopes this year's shortened Thanksgiving break will encourage families not to travel far for the holiday, reducing the risk of contracting the virus and spreading it in a school environment come December.

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