Savannah-Chatham school system releases data on COVID-19 cases, quarantines

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 5:58 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2021 at 1:34 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) had 230 students test positive for COVID-19, according to the first weekly update from the school system.

The district has around 36,000 students enrolled. That works out to a positivity rate of 0.63 percent.

The district had another 36 staff members test positive in addition to having almost 1,200 people in quarantine. So, approximately three percent is in quarantine.

Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett says a week ago, the school system was celebrating the first day of school and a return to full in-person learning and it was a success. She says they expected COVID-19 cases and while they are discouraged by the amount they are seeing already; they say they are pressing on believing in their mitigation strategies.

“Our intention is to keep the doors open. We worked really hard to get to five days a week and that’s what we’re going to stay. Now we’re not going to do that at the risk of detriment to health and safety so that’s what we will be watching the signs, we will be watching the numbers and we’ll continue to work with our healthcare professionals,” Dr. Levett said.

School leaders say they aren’t changing course now, but rather strengthening their efforts like increasing the number of contact tracers who are in every school.

“We initiate contact tracing as soon as the notification comes to us. Of course, it takes us a bit of time to go back and see. We may have to look at seating charts or if it’s someone that was on the bus, we may have to look at the bus routes, but we initiate contact tracing process immediately,” SCCPSS District Lead Nurse Lisa Wilson said.

In addition to masking at the schools, Savannah-Chatham is requiring students exposed to COVID to quarantine, based on their vaccine and testing status. They also say they have some of the most consistent practices with cleaning, sanitization and more.

“We have the schools on a cycle where they will automatically receive replenishments directly from the vendors they are being drop shipped,” SCCPSS Deputy Superintendent Vanessa Miller-Kaigler said.

While they are working to ensure a safe school environment, they are pleading with families not to come to school sick or if they are awaiting test results to protect others. They say those who are out of school can still be present and engage with virtual learning.

“It’s going to take all of us to get through this time, we’ll do it by working together,” Levett said.

“I think the best that we can do at this point is to continue to follow the science and to continue to monitor our community transmission rates and continue to see what’s happening in our schools. I think that to dismiss any of that would be a very unwise move on our part,” Wilson said.

District leaders say they have no thresholds to change course at this point, but if they have learned anything it’s how to pivot quickly and will be ready to act in the best interest of the district.

*Please note, an update from SCCPSS has been provided for Garrison from the table below. The numbers for Garrison are seven positive students, one positive personnel, 20 quarantined students and zero quarantined personnel.

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