COVID cases continue to climb

Grace L. Morgan, Staff Reporter

   In accordance with the week Oct. 19-23, George County High School has had 155 students quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. 

   Since the 2020 school year began, seven teachers have tested positive for COVID, and 24 students have also tested positive. 

   As reported by The Mississippi State Department of Health, an outbreak in a school setting is interpreted as three or more individuals diagnosed with COVID in the same group within a 14-day period. 

   GCHS Principal Sid Taylor proclaims that to keep the school from shutting down students and staff should wear a mask in public places and always keep hands washed and clean.

   “We need to avoid going to large activities or gatherings like parties,” Taylor said.

   Since Oct. 13 and the return of all hybrid students, temperatures checks have stopped. Taylor states that the reason they stopped checking temperatures was because to check all students would take up the entire first block.

   As a result of the football team being quarantined, the new date for the homecoming football game is set for Nov. 6. 

   “It’s just very tough and heartbreaking,” Taylor said.

   He exclaims how its been a challenge for the football team the past two to three games by also describing it as sad and unfortunate. 

   Furthermore, Taylor is splitting the single pep rally into two pep rallies; seniors and juniors and freshman and sophomore. In addition, he is relocating it to the outdoor stadium so that there will be more room to social distance. 

   In accordance with the Mississippi State Department of Health, if 25 percent of the student body along with faculty and staff go into quarantine, then the entire high school will go full distance learning. Moreover, it takes 325-350 people out of the total enrollment of 1,085 students, along with 100 additional faculty and staff. 

   With the return of fall, new activities including the fair have started. Individuals including George County school nurse Jodi Sumrall believe that the upcoming chain of fall events will result in a spike of COVID cases because the events are more public.

   “I hope and pray that the cases will be on the decline,” Sumrall said. 

   According to Sumrall, the procedure for when a student is quarantined or tests positive begins with someone calling and letting them know who the individual is. 

   Next, they identify who their close contacts are. When identifying close contacts, they look for individuals within six feet from the student that tested positive or individuals that have been in contact with them for 15 minutes or more. They find students who sit in front, behind, left and right to the student when concerning the six-foot-rule.  

   Once the close contacts are identified and verified, administrators notify their parents. Most of the time they use contact tracing when finding students who are exposed. 

   Furthermore, the nurse verifies the seating charts, and if any teachers were exposed to students who tested positive they will have to hire a substitute. After all the exposed individuals are identified, they will proceed to disinfect and clean the classrooms per the school board policy. 

   Many symptoms that Sumrall notices in students who have tested positive include headaches, stomach aches, nausea, cold symptoms and weakness/fatigue.

   “ In a meeting with a local pediatrician we discussed how we see less fever in the students that have tested positive,” Sumrall said. 

   “In a meeting with a local  pediatrician we discussed how we see few fevers in the students that tested positive,” Sumrall said.