Lamar County School District speak out in midst of COVID outbreak

Superintendent Steven Hampton explains his decision
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:26 PM CDT
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LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Some parents in Lamar County are upset after Purvis and Oak Grove high schools went back to virtual learning.

According to Lamar County Superintendent Steven Hampton, the district is reacting to a COVID outbreak at both schools. He says there were nine outbreaks total between both Purvis and Oak Grove high schools.

“Due to the number of positive outbreaks, we had at both of those schools, we felt like it was important for us to limit the number of exposures to the virus as much as possible,” says Hampton.

This is why there is a district-wide mask mandate and the reason the school district sent both schools back to virtual learning for the next two weeks.

“This is not a punishment, this is all for the safety of their children also our staff. We have 10,600 students in this district, and we want to make sure that we keep them all safe,” says Hampton.

The students are not the only ones affected. Hampton says there are having a “staff issue” as well.

“We have half of our bus drivers in the Lumberton area that are out due to quarantine and positive cases. We have a number in our Purvis and Oak Grove area that are being out because of quarantine, and that’s just bus drivers. We also have cafeteria workers and teachers who are testing positive,” says Hampton.

The numbers were too high to ignore, Hampton says, and they had to do something to protect everyone.

“Last week we had 114 positive students with 26 positive faculty members, our employees. We had to quarantine 608 students due to close contact, also 41 employees quarantined. We had 16 outbreaks across our district,” says Hampton.

Hampton says all his decisions regarding COVID are data-driven.

The district leaders will re-evaluate the numbers at the end of the two weeks to decide if they should extend the virtual learning or not.

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