Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School paused for in-person learning due to COVID

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JASPER COUNTY, SC (WSAV) – Jasper County’s only public high school is now “on hold” due to COVID-19.

“A medical decision has been made based on the data we have that we are going to close Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School through Friday,” said Dr. Rechel Anderson, “and we will reevaluate the data this Friday.”

“The decisions we make are sound in practice and we can stand behind it with the new data,” said Dr. Rechel Anderson, Jasper County Schools Superintendent.

That data shows a spike in COVID cases on Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School’s campus and a concern about the spread of the virus off it.

“We have already encountered more cases than we saw in the entire school year in 2021,” explains Dr. James Gault, MD, Jasper County Schools medical advisor.

24 confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 90 other students and staff have been quarantined.

The school’s football team, volleyball team, and cheerleading squad had to be quarantined already.

“We have lost containment in the sense that things have happened so fast we have not had the opportunity to test everybody that needs to be tested or do the contact testing for the people who may be able to expose people further,” said Dr. Gault.

There is a belief this version of the virus, the delta variant, only heightens the need for safety.

“We are dealing with a much more infectious and much more aggressive virus. Back when we were dealing with an Alpha variant we knew that a single individual in three successions of spread would affect maybe 8 people,” said Dr. Gault. “With this new highly aggressive really infectious delta variant one person will account for 125 cases.”

Jasper County has one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the state and one of the lowest vaccination rates.

Part of why the school system wants to work with local hospitals to establish a program to get those 12-17-year-olds vaccinated now, to help get school restarted sooner.

“Vaccination may not keep you from getting a milder asymptomatic infection it turns out but it prevents you from getting ill,” said Dr. Gault.

The school system is expanding its testing for students and staff to determine how widespread the infection is, and if the elementary and middle schools may have to go virtual as well.

The high school will be on virtual instruction at least until Friday. School leaders will reevaluate their plan then.

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