The Lamar County School District seems to be pulling ahead in the fight against COVID-19, with the number of positive cases throughout the district’s 19 campuses down to less than 40 for the week of Sept. 11-17.
Those numbers are compared to the high of 891 positive students and 194 employees in Week 5 of the school year, when the total number of positive cases in the district reached 1,085.
“We are back to full, traditional (learning),” school district superintendent Steven Hampton said. “We do have a hybrid or virtual option, but it’s one of those things were going back to traditional, face-to-face – and the numbers staying low – is promising.
“I feel like I can hesitantly say that we’ve weathered this storm of the delta variant (of the virus). Who knows what comes next, but I do feel like we’re definitely able to get back to teaching and learning.”
The numbers from the week of Sept. 11-17 break down into the following:
- Lumberton schools, which are home to 563 students, had zero positive cases among staff and students. One staff/faculty member was quarantined, along with nine students.
- Purvis schools, which are home to 1,761 students, had zero positive cases among staff, and 10 positive cases among students. Zero staff/faculty were quarantined; 42 students were quarantined.
- Baxterville schools, which are home to 249 students, had zero positive cases among staff and students. No staff members were in quarantine; three students were in quarantine.
- Oak Grove schools, which are home to 5,749 students, reported 4 positive cases among staff/faculty, along with 21 students. Seven staff were in quarantine, as were 153 students.
- Sumrall schools, which are home to 1,994 students, reported zero positive cases among staff/faculty and two among students.
“We still have about two or three cases a day, but you’re talking about 10,000 students,” Hampton said. “Last I looked (on Tuesday) afternoon at probably two o’clock, we had two reported cases positive for students.
“So speaking relatively, percentage-wise, it’s minimal to none, compared to what we were seeing back in July and the first of August.”
Hampton attributes the decreasing numbers to several factors, many of which are out of the control of school district officials – especially when it comes to the public.
“We do feel like, for the most part, a lot of the transmissions are happening in public,” he said. “I think I heard (state health officer Dr. Thomas) Dobbs say back in August that ‘we’re burning through the firewood quick.’
“When you look at the number of students who are in their 90-day positive community, we do have a number of students who are able to get the vaccine, or are getting the vaccine. We’re very proud of that, and I do think that our face coverings within the school environment are all factors that have helped to keep those numbers low.”
In addition to face masks, district officials are also sticking to several other protocols that are outlined in the Return to School Plan that was recently approved by the Lamar County School District Board of Trustees.
“Face coverings are still required in any school building for all people – inside the buildings, not outside,” Hampton said. “I feel like at some point, maybe pretty soon, we can go back to (recommended masks other than required). Ultimately, the face coverings is something is not something that we enjoy; it’s not something that we like.
“But it’s a measure of us being able to follow those Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines to keep kids in school. With the face coverings, while inside the regular classroom environment, if the student is three feet away from a positive (case), they don’t have to quarantine if both are wearing face coverings. So it’s just a measure of keeping as many kids in school as possible, without having to quarantine for close contact.”