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Hancock County elementary school closed for 2 weeks due to COVID-19

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:35 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2021 at 7:32 AM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Only one week into the start of the school year, a Hancock County school made the decision to close for two weeks due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

South Hancock Elementary will be closed for the next 14 days due to a spike in cases over the last week. A message sent to parents Tuesday night notified them of the decision to close.

“Last night, we confirmed our third classroom case of COVID19 outbreak,” said Hancock County Superintendent Teresa Merwin. “Based on the Mississippi Department of Health guidelines with that third class exposure we made the choice to be a good steward to the process of closing down the school and quarantining for the 14 days.”

Wednesday, teachers and administrators were working to put together packets of schoolwork and online lessons for the next two weeks so that students can continue to learn virtually while at home.

“We have ELA, which is English, Language, and Reading,” said second-grade teacher Tracy Lang. “We have math, a little bit of science, social studies, and phonics,” said Lang.

“They’ve had the opportunity in some form or fashion to do some virtual learning, so we’re ready,” said Merwin. “We met (Wednesday) morning with our team. We have a plan for rollout and distribution and have no doubt this will be a smooth transition.”

All distance learning packets will be available Thursday morning at the school from 7:15 a.m. until 9 a.m. Parents of third, fourth, and fifth graders will also be able to check out computers for virtual learning.

A report released Tuesday by the Mississippi Department of Health shows the number of positive cases reported in schools and how many were quarantined the week of Aug. 2-6, 2021, throughout the state.

South Hancock Elementary reported between one and five positive cases in both students and employees. One employee and five students were quarantined during that week due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

If there are fewer than five people at one school, MSDH reports the number as between one and five as to not inadvertently identify someone’s health condition.

Two other schools - Stone High in Stone County and Agricola Elementary in George County - also announced a two-week closure this week due to COVID outbreaks.

While Hancock County School District has required masks since the first day of school, Stone County and George County school districts have not.

MSDH defines an outbreak in a school setting as three or more individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the same group within a 14-day period. So three people in one classroom would be the same group. There’s no further explanation of how many cases it takes to close an entire school.

To read the most recent report on COVID-19 in Mississippi schools, click here.

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