Vidalia City Schools’ winter break starts early due to COVID-19 cases

Vidalia City Schools’ winter break starts early due to COVID-19 cases

VIDALIA, Ga. (WTOC) - Vidalia City Schools saw a large spike in their COVID-19 numbers and are now preparing for what’s to come of their second semester.

Students and staff started their winter break four days early after school officials decided to close the high school and middle school. The superintendent says the biggest issue they faced was the number of people in quarantine.

“The quarantine numbers have risen dramatically,” Vidalia City Schools Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox said.

Dr. Wilcox says they release COVID-19 figures every week. When they noticed a big rise this past week, Wilcox says they had so many staff members out that they couldn’t continue in-person learning for the rest of the semester.

“We had a large number of staff numbers that were quarantined and it just kind of made it difficult to continue having class,” Dr. Wilcox said.

According to the school’s COVID-19 update from this week, there are 155 students and 48 staff members in quarantine. 140 of those students are in grades 6-12 and 31 of those staff members work in those grades as well.

“Most of what I hear and see is attributed to families getting together during Thanksgiving break. That we’re aware of, we’ve had very little transmission that’s taken place in school,” Dr. Wilcox said.

Dr. Wilcox says he made the call to close J.R. Trippe Middle School and Vidalia High School on Tuesday for the rest of the week. These students and staff will not return until after winter break on Jan. 6.

“There’s a little bit of fear now that after the Christmas break where families and larger groups congregate that, you know, we may experience another spike sometime mid-January,” he said.

Dr. Wilcox says grades K-5 did finish out the week because the cases there are significantly lower, and they felt those students and staff were safe. He advises everyone to be extra cautious during break, so that students can stay in the classroom to learn.

“We just, you know, hope that everybody’s being mindful of some of the steps they can take personally,” Dr. Wilcox said.

He says they are prepared to switch to virtual after the break, if it came down to it.

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