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Pascagoula High to close for 2 weeks due to COVID-19

Since the start of school less than two weeks ago, 55 students and 10 staff members at Pascagoula High have tested positive for COVID-19.
Pascagoula High School will be closed for the next two weeks due to COVID-19. It is set to...
Pascagoula High School will be closed for the next two weeks due to COVID-19. It is set to reopen Sept. 2, 2021.
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 2:02 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Pascagoula High is joining several schools throughout South Mississippi in closing its doors due to COVID-19. The high school will be closed for the next two weeks and is set to reopen Sept. 2.

Since the start of school less than two weeks ago, 55 students and 10 staff members at Pascagoula High have tested positive for COVID-19.

A statewide report released earlier this week from the State Department of Health initially reported 36 staff members had tested positive so far this year, but that number was incorrect, said Pascagoula-Gautier School District officials.

Superintendent, Wayne Rodolfich says he is working closely with healthcare workers within the school district to monitor the rising numbers.

“Whenever my district nurse comes to me and says, ‘This school here,’ then we have a challenge because three classes have shut down and you have a dozen or more classes that are teetering with two students that are positive in classes,” said Rodolfich. “Once you get to that number, you have to make a decision.”

The decision Rodolfich and other school officials came to was sending the high school students home for the next two weeks.

While some parents have expressed their disapproval of this decision, most have said they support it. Pascagoula grandfather John Boyd said he understands the decision.

“What it comes down to is keeping our kids safe,” said Boyd. “I’m disappointed that they’re closing the school, but I think it might be necessary to close them to keep our kids safe.”

Rodolfich says this marks the first closure of any school in the Pascagoula-Gautier District since spring of 2020 when all schools went virtual. Last year, PGSD did not have any outbreaks that caused them to close the entire school. The goal, said Rodolfich, is always to keep students in the classroom.

“We’re really trying hard to keep all of our students at school. We realize it’s a hardship on families whenever they’re not in school,” he said. “We also understand the quality of instruction suffers a little bit because you have to have the discipline to stay on the computer the entire time you’re at home.”

That’s 330 minutes of virtual learning per day that parents like Dori Black will have to help their children with.

“(My daughter) did some distance learning last year and she hated it,” said Black. “She’s really disappointed, but I understand. I see no end to this until everyone gets together and gets these shots.”

School officials are encouraging every student who is able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The biggest thing is folks, we’re going to have to get everybody vaccinated or you’re going to have everybody get sick,” said Rodolfich. “It’s going to be one or the other. So you can either get vaccinated or you can get COVID. My goal is to help more people become vaccinated so we can beat this thing, but we’re not going to get there by wishing it away. It’s going to require action for this to occur.”

PGSD is taking that action by partnering with Singing River Health System to offer COVID vaccines to students ages 12 and older and employees.

Shots will be administered Friday at Pascagoula High from 8-9am and at Gautier High from 10-11am. Another event on Friday, Aug. 27, will be available from 8-9am at Colmer Middle School and from 10-11am at Gautier Middle School.

All students must be over the age of 12 and have a signed permission slip by their parents.

COVID Vaccination information for PGSD Students and Employees

Posted by Pascagoula-Gautier School District on Friday, August 13, 2021

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