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Effingham Co. Schools see decline in COVID cases

After changing COVID restrictions in August they’ve seen a steady decline since.
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 3:43 PM EDT
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Monday marked the start of the 7th week of school for students in Effingham County.

While just a few weeks ago the district saw the highest number of COVID cases in both students and staff since the pandemic began, their numbers have dropped drastically since.

In fact, only three weeks ago the Effingham County School District reported 330 students were positive and they week before 103 staff were out with COVID.

“That number was certainly higher than we ever expected, and it was higher than any week that we experienced last year,” said Effingham County School District Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford.

Dr. Ford saying at times the district was straining just to get by.

“It was all hands-on deck. Whether it was some of us working in schools, some of us driving buses.”

So, in response they made a change.

“I am going to ask the board to allow me to put a mask mandate in place, a mask requirement for our staff,” said Dr. Ford at their August 20 School Board meeting.

That along with again requiring “maskless” close contact students to quarantine.

Both changes they plan on revisiting in the beginning of October

But since that decision, “our numbers have trended downward.”

In fact, both student and staff cases have dropped by half each of the weeks following the change.

ECSD COVID Numbers
ECSD COVID Numbers(Effingham County School District)

A welcome sight for Dr. Ford, but one he isn’t resting on.

“We got to keep our head down and stay diligent in what we’re doing. I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. I don’t think any of the districts around the area are out of the woods.”

As for how long these COVID restrictions remain in place in the district?

“We really haven’t discussed a lot on if or will we make any changes October 1. I think we wanted that month or so to run its course and let’s just see then what our numbers look like,” said Dr. Ford.

Although the numbers in the district are trending downward so far in just six weeks nearly 7 percent of students and 14 percent of staff have tested positive.

So, to get a better idea as to why they’re now seeing case numbers decline WTOC asked Memorial Health’s Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Thacker what he thinks is happening.

“I think that largely effects what the community is seeing right now. I think if you plotted out the number of cases in the school, I think that reflects what the county is experiencing. I still would offer that the best way to keep kids and staff healthy and well and in-person learning is a layered approach and that includes masking.”

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