SCCPSS sees high COVID-19 positivity rates among staff, discusses how to reopen schools safely

Education

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) Board of Education is weighing its options for returning students to the classroom.

The whole district has been in virtual learning since Christmas break ended because the board says the COVID-19 transmission rate in the county is too high.

School board members are now keeping a close eye on COVID-19 cases in Chatham County after the school district recorded its highest positivity rates yet among staff members.

“We have staff that has intentionally falsified responding to the COVID-19 questions upon entry of schools. We have staff that has been informed to quarantine, however, have engaged in other SCCPSS activities,” Chief Human Resources Officer, Ramon Ray said.

The spike in cases amongst school staff has startled some board members.

“We just can’t let that pass by us unnoticed. That’s remarkable,” District 3 Board Member, Cornelia Hall said.

Hall said at the board meeting that if we don’t all comply with the guidelines students will never get back to full-time in-person learning. Not all board members agree on how to move forward.

“We need to methodically work towards robust mitigation strategies many of which we’re already implementing, but we also need to recognize it doesn’t have to be an either-or,” District 1 Board Member, Denise Grabowski said.

“It’s not just about keeping spread in students. We keep beating that and beating it and beating it. Let’s think about the student who gets it from a teacher who takes it home to a grandmother,” District 6 Board Member, Dr. David Bringman said.

With 105 COVID-related deaths statewide Thursday alone, board members say now is the time to keep an eye on the data.

“More than 5,000 people in the United States lost their lives to COVID and we want to throw out the metrics?” District 8 Board Member, Dr. Tonia Howard-Hall said.

“I don’t want to create a situation where we are a super spreader event or a super spreader district because we are not taking it seriously, but we can’t live with the fear of one person getting COVID,” District 4 Board Member, Shawn Kachmar said.

The board didn’t make a final decision on how to move forward, but they did get a look at new learning models. They could possibly vote on those plans on Feb. 3.

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