George County elementary school moves to virtual learning after COVID-19 outbreak
LUCEDALE, Miss. (WLOX) - Agricola Elementary School in George County is closing due to a large number of positive COVID-19 cases.
The George County School District has made the decision that all students at the elementary school will switch to virtual learning for two weeks. Students are asked to not report to the school campus during this time from Thursday, Aug. 12, to Friday, Aug. 20.
When asked, district officials would not comment any further on the COVID outbreak, including releasing information on the number of positive cases that are currently reported amongst students and employees.
George County Superintendent Wade Whitney did tell WLOX on Wednesday that there will be changes to the district’s COVID protocols.
“We started the school year as masks were optional but highly recommended, but lets be clear - they were highly recommended but we are going to revisit that,” said Whitney.
Specific details concerning virtual learning will be provided by the school and the teachers. Students will return to campus on Monday, Aug. 23.
This is the third school in South Mississippi to close. South Hancock Elementary announced its two-week closure on Tuesday night. Stone High School announced Wednesday that it would close for two weeks, as well.
While Hancock County School District has required masks since the first day of school, Stone County School District and George County School District have not required masks for students or employees.
According to Whitney, wearing of masks will remain optional district-wide; however, if any school in the district reaches a specific threshold of positive or quarantined cases, that specific school may be placed on a 10-day mask mandate. He said they are looking at the numbers at each specific school, and those specific school numbers will be driving their decisions.
The Mississippi Department of Health reports the number of positive COVID cases in employees and students, but it is optional for districts to submit the data. With school having just started, only one report has been done this academic year so far. It is for the week ending Aug. 6. Neither George County or Stone County reported any information to MSDH for that week.
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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