COVINGTON -- Two six-year-old male students were bitten by a wild fox on the playground at Rocky Plains Elementary School around noon Wednesday.
The school nurse treated both bitten students at the school, which is located on Ga. Highway 162 in southern Newton County, and parents later transported them to a local hospital, according to the Newton County School System.
Approximately 50 kindergarten students were on the playground when the incident occurred.
"A teacher was able to kick the fox and get the animal off the students. The children were immediately taken off the playground," said Sherri Davis-Viniard, director of Public Relations for NCSS.
So far, Newton County Animal Control has been unable to capture the fox, but Director Teri Key-Hooson is hopeful.
"We have set some traps up and hopefully we'll be able to catch it," she said.
Hooson said the Fox was long gone by the time animal control officers arrived at the school, but she said the fox was "possibly sick," based on the unusual behavior.
She said the young victims of the fox bite will receive treatment for rabies regardless of whether the fox is captured or not.
"They have to be treated," she said, adding that the treatment will include a series of injections.
Hooson said it was her understanding the children were bitten on the legs and one child's wounds were more severe than the other.
"All outside activities at Rocky Plains have been cancelled," Viniard said. "Counselors at the school spoke to the little children, as they were obviously frightened by the incident. ... Newton County School Resource Officer will be on scene to help with dismissal in the event the fox returns."
Viniard added that the playground is fenced, but the fence does not surround it completely.
Hooson said it sounds as though this fox attacked with no provocation and she urged citizens to use extreme caution with wild animal sightings.
"This time of year, wild animals are raising their young and you will see them on the periphery of the woods at any time of the day," she said. "If you see them coming away from their normal habitat and not startling if you open a door or make a noise, something is not right."
She said any sightings of unusual behavior in wild animals should be reported to animal control at 770-786-9514.
The Newton County Board of Education has been discussing having full-time nurses at each school as part of its budget considerations for next school year. Some were cut a few years ago due to a budget shortfall.
Currently, each middle school and the three traditional high schools have full-time nurses, as well as Fairview, Flint Hill, Live Oak, Middle Ridge, South Salem and West Newton elementary schools. All of the other elementary schools have part-time nurses on staff.
The last day of the school year is Friday.