JASPER COUNTY, SC (WSAV) – Jasper County School District (JCSD) made the decision to pause in-school learning for Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School.
JCSD says the decision was made after the district saw a dramatic escalation in COVID case rates.
There are 24 documented infections at the school with 96 students and faculty in quarantine.
The district expects the numbers could go up as quarantined team members are tested.
Later this week, JCSD officials plan to release updated numbers and possible plans on resuming in-school learning at the high school.
Read a letter from JCSD to district families about the changes below:
August 22, 2021
Greetings Jasper County School District Families,
As is the case with most school districts in the state, Jasper County School District has seen a dramatic escalation in COVID case rates in recent weeks. County-wide, we are currently at almost 1,200 cases per 100,000 population, six times higher than the rate when schools opened last fall. As schools opened this past week, we have seen a proportionately increasing number of test-positive COVID cases in students and faculty – presently we have 24 documented infections, along with 96 children and staff in quarantine. Our football team, volleyball team and cheerleader squad are all quarantined as at the result of team member positive tests.
The number of cases is in itself of concern, more than we saw in the entire 20-21 school year. And we will surely find more infected children as we test the quarantined team members. But a larger threat at this point in time is that there are school-wide exposures that have gone unrecognized through inevitable athlete-student and faculty/staff interactions; we know that in just three cycles of spread a single delta variant COVID infection will account for as many as 125 additional infections.
We can safely allow in-school learning only when we can identify those additional infected individuals and begin contact tracing to limit further spread. It needs to be stressed in this connection that vaccination does not prevent spread of delta variant COVID by individuals with unrecognized breakthrough infections, and in the absence of universal masking there can be no prediction as to the extent of unrecognized exposure. And, of course, the school environment is uniquely susceptible to wider spread once the virus gains a foothold.
Given these considerations we have elected to pause in-school learning in the high school (Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School), this week (August 23-27, 2021), where the largest number of infections and quarantines have occurred. The pause will allow us to establish the true prevalence of infection in the school community, and to complete the contact tracing to identify other potential spreaders in and outside of the school environment. Additionally, we will expand the capacity of our on-site rapid testing facility to deal with the problem in real time going forward. We will report, further, at week’s end, to date numbers and how they will determine plans to resume in-school learning.
Rechel M. Anderson, Ed.D., Superintendent