Jasper County School District students, staff and anyone visiting its campuses will be required to wear a mask until at least Jan. 12.
The school board voted unanimously at its Dec. 13 meeting to extend the district’s COVID-19 mask mandate. It will once again be revisited in 30 days.
The board first approved a mandate in October and has continued to extend it every 30 days on the advice of medical advisor Dr. Jim Gault. At the meeting, Gault gave an update on the pandemic and the new variant of the virus known as omicron.
“This is an important time in our approach to the whole COVID problem,” he told the board.
Gault presented the district’s plan to handle the situation locally. He said the district will continue operating its high school testing site through the holiday season on a part-time basis.
“This gives us the opportunity to detect cases early and to do early contact tracings so that we can isolate those who have the potential to spread the virus more widely,” he said.
Gault said the district will to continue to try to get as many students vaccinated as possible. He said a vaccination clinic was held Dec. 11 and 70 more people received vaccines, including 40 children. He said the next scheduled clinic is Jan. 8.
“We are asking the faculty and staff to make sure they set the standard for the student population in making sure that we limit the potential for viral spread, particularly given the fact that the omicron (variant) is so easily transmitted,” he said. “The board has helped us tremendously by keeping a mask mandate in place. It sets us apart from some other districts in our area. We have taken a much more aggressive approach.”
Gault told the board that a surge is likely after the holidays. He said the virus is spreading within the community and the district’s goal is to find ways to keep it out of the school system.
“We can virtually guarantee you are going to have a surge after the holidays,” he said. “All of the preparation we do is in anticipation of that. The question is not whether we will see an increase in cases, it’s will we be able to contain it and keep it out of the schools.”
Board chair Carolyn Bolden said the district has “to govern themselves accordingly” amid the pandemic.
“We do appreciate your guidance, the entire nursing staff and their diligence to be able to keep the testing site open over the holidays,” she said.
Credit: Original article published here.