CCSD superintendent provides COVID-19 update

Published 11:00 am Friday, January 21, 2022

At Wednesday’s Chambers County School Board meeting, Superintendent Casey Chambley provided an update on how CCSD is handling the pandemic.

Chambley said the school board thought it was a good idea for schools to go virtual last week to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said that by going virtual Thursday and Friday, students and staff had a five-day period, including the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to stay apart from each other.

“Our staff numbers have decreased somewhat from what they were two weeks ago,” he said.

He said staff members had decreased somewhat from what they were about two weeks ago, when there were approximately 67 staff members out.

“And then that Monday, it moved to I think 54 and then 52,” he said. “And then we moved into the 40s, and we kind of teetered back and forth into the 40s and 50s. We have not been back into the 60s, I don’t believe. I think we had 37… it’s 37, right? From yesterday. We had about 37 out.”

Chambley said W.F. Burns Middle School and Valley High School were hit hard by the virus last week.

“Huguley Elementary School is being hit really hard right now,” he said.

Chambley said CCSD’s student population has a higher positivity rate than its staff. However, he said that the potential for staff members to get sick puts the school system at risk of not having enough of them.

“We could go virtual or have to move to a virtual model at any point in time on any day,” he said. “It just depends on where the staff locations are and when they happen.”

Chambley said CCSD aims to keep students in face-to-face learning as much as it can. He said CCSD knows how difficult it is for parents to find childcare and that it makes the decision to go virtual or stay face-to-face very carefully.

“If there are staff members that are watching, I know sometimes that you want to come to work,” he said. “But if you’re sick, don’t come to work. And if you are a parent with kids, and you have a positive case in your home, please report that to your school nurse and do not send your kids to school.”

He urged staff members who can’t come to work to put their absences in as soon as possible.

He said about 228 staff and students were out of school for COVID-related reasons. However, he said the number was a little misleading. He explained that some students would stay home because a family member had COVID, and then they’d catch it and stay home even longer. The parents wouldn’t notify their school nurses of this until they were called, creating a lag in CCSD’s ability to report cases.

Chambley said that on Thursday, Jan. 13, CCSD reported 119 positive cases to the school dashboard. Of those, about 19 were staff members, he said.

“I think we are seeing the numbers to start to maybe not continue to rise, they’ve plateaued some, and now we hope to see those numbers start to decline,” he said. “They’re hoping that as weather starts to warm up into March and April that we will see less of this and maybe go through the spring and then go through summer. And as testing ramps up as well as the vaccine, they’re hoping we cannot see another peak from this variant.”