SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The second semester for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is underway as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the community.

School district leaders say their goal is the same: to keep schools open five days a week with students in the classroom.

The school board met on Wednesday for the first time since the holiday break. While Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett said she’s disappointed in the rising cases in the community, the district does not intend to make any changes yet. 

“The goal remains that we will maintain a safe, healthy learning environment so that all schools will remain open five days a week,” Levett said. “I think we’ve done pretty well first semester, we learned a lot of lessons and that continues to be our goal.” 

The superintendent is urging parents to be prepared in case there have to be rolling school closures. 

“We certainly try to keep buildings open if we can,” Levett said. “We recognize that with the rate of infections, we may have staff who are out. So we have emergency plans available, but there may possibly be rolling closures.

“I ask all parents to have an emergency plan available. We often are not able to give you a whole lot of notice if we need to close down a classroom or when, so we ask you to have a plan available if we need to.”

For the first day of the new semester, roughly 85% of staff were in attendance, according to Levett.  

The same practices from last semester remain in place, including masks, personal protective equipment, weekly testing for athletes, contact tracing and quarantine protocols if someone is exposed to the virus. 

District leaders said they continue to meet with their team of local medical experts to look at the community transmission and determine if changes need to be made in schools. 

“Of course, they share our concern in the uptick of transmission with the new variant,” Levett said. “They’ve also pointed out that the severity of the variant is really too early to predict, but they want us all to be cautious.”

Levett said the district plans to wait until two weeks after the holiday break before discussing any possible changes to operations. 

“The impact of winter break must be considered before we make any changes,” she said. “That was our thought along the way.”

Roughly 85% of staff are vaccinated as of Dec. 17, with 300 awaiting confirmation, according to district officials.