Chambers County School District COVID numbers on the rise

Published 8:20 am Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Since the start of its second semester, the Chambers County School District has been dealing with a high number of COVID-19 positives and quarantines in its staff.

While the staff numbers dropped to four positive and seven in quarantine, the number of employees that were out is still very high.

“As of [Friday] afternoon, we had about 19 teachers quarantined right now and about eight teachers positive,” CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley said. “That’s about 27 adults that are affected by COVID, which is a pretty high number. We hit our highest number [the week of Jan. 19-22] with positive cases of COVID with teachers and students.”

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On Friday, CCSD had 56 employees absent, through a combination of COVID, vacation or other reasons. Thirty-three of those absences were unfilled.

“We should never have that many unfilled,” Chambley said. “We are getting into some territory that if it stays in that number or goes higher than that, especially at one campus, we’re going to have a hard time filling those.”

Chambley said the 56 staff absences were spread throughout the district.

The number of students affected has risen sharply. The CCSD reported 11 positive cases and 76 students in quarantine for the week of Jan.19-22. On Friday, there were 21 positive student cases and 226 students in quarantine.

“It’s just people being around each other I guess. I don’t really have anything to attribute that number to other than we just came back,” Chambley said. “We’ve not been back very long. The quarantine numbers are going up because we are back to going full speed. If some of those positive-student numbers go up, you’re going to see the quarantine numbers go up because our classrooms are not equipped to socially distance six-by-six everywhere.”

Chambley said the numbers were lower the week of Jan. 19-22 because it was a four-day week due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday and the district was coming back from its choice learning week, which allowed families to decide if they would send their children to school or keep them at home to do their work.

“We didn’t expect that number to be higher,” Chambley said. “This week was a full week, and we’ll be able to look at the next week and see if that starts, we’re hoping that starts to plateau and level off. We’re hoping some of these vaccines start to help and that we can get through this thing.”

If the numbers continue to stay high or rise, Chambley said the district could go back to the choice model or go fully online.

“That’s pretty much the only choice. We’re going to do everything we can to not shut down,” Chambley said. “We would go to the least intrusive method first, which would be our choice model, and which would limit the number of people that were on campuses.

Since the district has been forced to go online so much lately, there have been some additional adjustments to the virtual learning method.

The schools now follow a schedule that allows teachers to interact with the students online.

“They’re interacting live with [the students] more,” Chambley said. “They have office hours that have been set up and Google Meet times that have been set up for their classrooms ffor them to see some live instruction.”