EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Throughout the pandemic, Effingham County never officially put a mask mandate in place.
Instead allowing businesses, schools and other entities to decide for themselves, most airing on the side of caution.
But now some feel the time is right to roll back those COVID related restrictions.
“The mask is moving from mandatory to optional for our staff members,” said Effingham County School District Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford.
The District making that decision about a week ago following their return from Spring Break. But it’s been a goal that Dr. Ford says they’ve been aiming for since the beginning.
“We always felt like that if we could continue to see our numbers go down, that was something we wanted to be able to offer to our staff members.”
Admittedly numbers in the second semester have been trending lower.
In fact, according to their online tracker, about halfway through their fourth nine weeks only eight out of the nearly 12,000 in-person students and seven out of 1,700 staff members have tested positive for COVID.
Click here to see the ECSD COVID-19 Dashboard.
While Dr. Ford is happy to offer this option his staff, he says they aren’t completely letting their guard down.
“As they’re teaching, we’ll continue to do the things we’ve done since day one where they’re kind of in their teaching bubble where they can maintain that six feet radius.”
The school district, not the only one’s loosening some restrictions in the county.
“Well, the Chamber of Commerce is moving back to holding in-person events,” said Chamber CEO Andrew Cripps.
A decision he says they came to this decision for a couple of reasons.
“Part of it is the rollback of guidelines in the state of Georgia and part of it is looking at the statistics of how people being vaccinated, how many new cases are happening.”
Bringing back an important role of the Chamber to the community
“We recognize that a big part of the value of membership are these networking events,” said Cripps.
The first event will be a business after hours Tuesday April 27 at Panther Effingham Parc Apartments, which they will hold outside from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
While both Cripps and Dr. Ford are ready to get back to normal, they also are prepared to pivot if needed.
“If things were to go bad, we’d go back to drawing boards and see where we need to take steps to keep people safe,” said Dr. Ford.
“We’re keeping an eye on it because the safety and health of our members is most important,” added Cripps.
According to Dr. Ford the district is continuing to offer vaccines to staff members each Friday.
So far, about 900 have been vaccinated through the district.