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Lamar County School District responds to claims of COVID-19 violations

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 7:04 PM CDT
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LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - A Lamar County School District parent accused the district of violating COVID-19 protocols Gov. Tate Reeves and the Mississippi State Department of Health set forth.

The parent sent pictures to WDAM and said the pictures show the district is not enforcing masks, social distancing or the 25% capacity rule at football games. WDAM took the parent’s claims and pictures to the Lamar County School District Superintendent for answers.

Superintendent Steven Hampton reviewed the pictures and insisted the school district is following COVID-19 guidelines, including the 25% capacity rule.

“We make sure that we do that only by selling online tickets," Hampton said. "We sell online tickets through gofan.co so that we make sure that we limit our facility and events to 25% capacity,” Hampton said.

When it comes to masks, Hampton says the district requires a mask to enter football games and police officers are present to enforce it. But Lamar County School District COVID-19 response officer Meg Stewart explained that it is a big task.

“If you have a family unit that’s at a ball game, those family members can sit together within 6 feet without their masks on for a period of time, or especially if they are on the field," Stewart said. "We do ask that they keep their mask on if they are traveling within the stadium, but if they are all together within six feet, we are hoping that’s a family unit.”

As the COVID response officer for the school district, Stewart handles all COVID-19 reporting protocols, including contact tracing after a student or teacher test positive.

“Each week on Monday, we update the numbers on our Lamar County School District website to report all of those numbers to our community so they can make sure that their students are in a safe place,” Stewart said.

Stewart added the pandemic has brought about unique challenges especially in regard to privacy.

“We report by communities instead of school names because if you only have one positive case and we reported the school name we would be releasing that information out and we want to protect everyone’s privacy, student and staff,” Stewart said.

Hampton and Stewart said they want the public to know following and enforcing COVID-19 guidelines is a responsibility the district takes seriously, and add they need the public’s help to continue to keep the community safe and its numbers low.

At last check, Lamar County School District reported three staff or faculty COVID-19 positive cases in Oak Grove, three in Sumrall and one at what the district calls “other sites.”

There are two positive student cases in Purvis, one in Oak Grove, and four positive student cases in Sumrall.

There are several staff and students the district lists as quarantined. For those numbers go to Lamar County School District’s website.

On Wednesday, Reeves announced a new executive order that will allow 50% of capacity to attend outdoor K-12 extracurricular events such as football games.

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