Joe Windle

Siri Hedreen / The Outlook Superintendent Joe Windle and board members Martin Johnson and Michael Carter

Four people at Horseshoe Bend tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, including two students and two staff members, Tallapoosa County Schools superintendent Joe Windle said at its annual board meeting Tuesday.

Seventy students are currently in quarantine at home due to exposure, he said.

All five cafeteria cooks are also in quarantine, four due to exposure and one out of caution due to a pre-existing medical condition, leaving only the lunchroom manager still at work. As a result, the high school is relying on administrative staff to keep breakfast and lunch going. The school is currently only handing out bagged meals.

Windle said he would be at the Horseshoe Bend cafeteria himself at 8:30 a.m. packing meals.

Upon hearing this news Tuesday, board members Carla Talton and Linda Daniel volunteered to join Windle. Windle said they would pack two days’ worth of meals and after that would be “taking it one day at a time.”

“When you ask the superintendent (to pack lunches) you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel,” Windle joked.

Tallapoosa County Schools does not plan to go virtual at present. Windle said the main problem isn’t students testing positive, but students having to quarantine due to exposure with a family member of someone outside the school system.

“We are not causing the cases in Tallapoosa County,” he said. “What gets us is the quarantining.”

Windle said Horseshoe Bend will stay open as long as teachers and staff can continue to go to work safely.

“If you can keep our workforce healthy, it’s not the students that test positive,” he told the board. “Our kids are better off in school.”

Windle said there is no magic number of positive cases that would trigger a shutdown — rather, it could be down to one of the two custodians having to quarantine.

“If we lost the custodians we can’t do our cleaning protocols,” he said. “We don’t have substitutes that substitute as custodians.”

Windle also expressed concern over the upcoming basketball season due to it being an indoor sport where infection could spread more easily. Gymnasiums will be filled at only 30% capacity and mask mandates will be strictly enforced, he said.

As of Tuesday there were no new COVID-19 cases at Dadeville or Reeltown high schools.