Jackson County School District reverses its approach to quarantining

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 11:47 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 7:47 AM CDT
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VANCLEAVE, Miss. (WLOX) - Jackson County School District is reversing its approach on quarantining students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 while at school.

On Tuesday, the district announced it would no longer isolate exposed students in a classroom away from the other students. Instead, the district will work with parents who choose to quarantine their child at home for 10 days, allowing the student to work virtually instead.

Previously, the district isolated exposed students in classrooms away from other students who had not been exposed; but, those isolated students were still allowed to participate in after school extracurricular activities and ride the bus with other students.

As of Monday evening, the district reported 3.98% of students have currently been out of school due to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. However, Superintendent Dr. John Strycker updated that total to around 5% on Tuesday, noting that the daily student case count has been fairly level over the past few days.

According to the superintendent, the decision was made to change the quarantine policy in an effort to keep more children in the classroom.

“We’re using data for our decisions and we’re finding that the kids that were in quarantine, that were isolated, really the additional cases that were coming up were about the same as the general population,” said Strycker. “We really want to do what’s best for the kids. Our students were falling behind in the secondary buildings not going to class, so we’re not going to have that policy anymore.”

Even with those stable numbers, the superintendent acknowledged that the virus is greatly impacting families everywhere, including his own.

“Last week, a very dear friend of mine from Michigan passed away from complications related to COVID,” wrote Strycker in the announcement. “I believe that at this point, most of us can directly relate to the impact of this virus. COVID has also affected our staff members in a very personal and deep way – our school family is hurting.”

The changes to the district’s COVID-19 policy are being done to allow parents more of a choice, said Strycker.

“We have parents that are intelligent. We have parents that can read the data and know the risks that are involved in sending their kids to school. We believe the parents deserve that choice,” he said.

That point was emphasized in the announcement that was sent out to the district about the updated quarantine policy.

“We also feel strongly that no one loves children more than parents; therefore, we will continue to allow parents the opportunity to make the best choice for their families regarding masks and vaccines,” read the announcement.

The district will notify parents if their child has been potentially exposed to the virus while in school. If the parent decides to keep the child home to quarantine, the student will be provided with instructional materials so they can continue to do school work. However, they will not be allowed to participate in any extracurricular activities.

Students who do not have internet access to partake in virtual learning will receive a take-home packet. Absences because of quarantine will not be counted against the student

“We’re really going to ramp up what we’re doing on temperature checking, checking for symptoms not only in school, but in extracurricular activities. Just really making sure we monitor the students and we do some extra cleaning, but we wanted to get the kids back on the regular schedule,” said Strycker.

The district will also do temperature and symptom checks throughout the school day and during extracurricular activities, as well as continuing with sanitation practices.

As of Aug. 23, JCSD reported a total of 452 students had tested positive in the district. That includes elementary and secondary schools in Vancleave, East Central, and St. Martin. To see a breakdown of each school, visit Jackson County School District’s COVID-19 page by clicking here.

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