Lanett City Schools ready to adjust if COVID keeps surging

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly, area public and private schools have had to consider their safety options carefully as students return from their winter breaks.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Lanett City Schools Superintendent Jennifer Boyd went over LCS’ plans to protect employees and students from COVID-19.

Boyd said a month ago she had discussed deciding on a metric to determine when Lanett City Schools could relax their mask policy.

“Well, a lot can happen in one month because that is certainly not the conversation today,” she said. “Since that last meeting, we have seen a huge surge in the numbers in our local area, across the state, across the nation.”

Boyd said the school system is doing what it can to maintain a face-to-face learning environment, as LCS students are generally more successful that way. However, she said that as conditions dictate, LCS may need to transition temporarily to remote learning for the sake of safety.

“So far — this is just last week, because we’ve only been back a week following the Christmas holiday — we have had a total of 24 student cases and five staff cases,” she said.

Boyd said the CDC changed some of its quarantine guidelines, which may help the school board decide if LCS should transition to remote learning. She encouraged parents to read the guidelines.

“We also pushed out some reminders from the nurse’s desk today,” she said. “It kind of breaks that information down and what our expectations are as a district, so make sure that you read that information as well.”

Boyd said employees getting sick may lead to staffing issues that would make it best to go virtual, especially considering that the pool of substitute teachers is small. She said on Monday Lanett Junior Senior High School operated with a skeleton staff.

“I hope that our parents hear me when I say, ‘Make sure that you are ready because the numbers change from day-to-day,’” she said.

A plan for traditional learning is posted on the LCS website. It covers COVID safety protocols that LCS is following. It says that masks are required.

Springwood School has required masks for grades three and above since students returned to school last week, said Head of School Lowrie McCown. He said masks weren’t required before Jan. 3.

“We probably had six weeks where we weren’t mask focused, and people could do it at their discretion,” he said.

COVID rates at Springwood have been low. McCown said the school was practically COVID-free during the 12 weeks prior to Christmas.

He said Springwood isn’t seeing a significant increase in student or faculty cases. However, it is seeing more absences from students choosing to go virtual to keep their families safe. He said the school board preferred not to publish the school’s COVID-19 numbers.

“We have been following the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recommendations,” he said. “The chief of staff there is an immunologist and a pediatrician. He is very much focused on how independent schools can keep kids on campus. So, we have masks, hand washing and other basic protocols in place, and we instituted that immediately coming back on Jan. 3.”

McCown said Springwood School makes use of outside doorways and has two ways to treat its air. He said Springwood students and employees observe social distancing when possible and that students who feel sick are asked to stay home.