One Richmond County school remains closed due to COVID-19

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 6:13 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - All Richmond County schools were closed Friday due to flooding in the area, but one school extended its closure through Monday and Tuesday due to coronavirus concerns.

Twenty schools in the district have reported positive cases, so why not just close them all?

Ten percent seems to be the golden number for Richmond County. They said if 10 percent of the student population is absent -- they’d close down a school.

At Laney High School, only four people in the building are currently positive, but the school reports dozens more are in mandatory self-isolation.

Out of the 257 face-to-face learners at Laney, about 18 percent are at home with COVID or self-isolating.

“As of Friday, that was four positive student tests,” Richmond County School System spokeswoman Lynthia Ross said. “And they have about 41 or 42 students who are in quarantine as a result of exposure.”

But when it comes to closing down a school, Ross says it’s more than a numbers game.

“The administration at the high school asked that we just close for a couple of days to give them an opportunity to reset, just do some additional education with their staff and prepare for their students to return on Wednesday,” Ross said.

The decision to close down the school ultimately came from the school system. But it started with a specific request from the Laney administration.

“They just wanted a couple of days while some of the student’s test results came in to just have an opportunity to again do some education and some reset and some deep cleaning,” Ross said.

That specific request is why the district says, they closed that one school, rather than all 20 schools that currently have positive cases.

“We evaluate the schools on a case to case basis. No situation is exactly the same,” Ross said.

Meanwhile, the 257 in-person learners at Laney won’t be learning at all until school reopens on Wednesday.

“When we closed on Thursday due to flooding, we didn’t anticipate an additional closure,” Ross said.

“There wasn’t a preparation for them in having additional assignments or additional instruction for Monday and Tuesday virtually.

But as Ross says, learning takes a backseat when it comes to health and safety.

The district also says the closure gives them some extra time to do deep cleaning at the school.

Meanwhile, the district announced last week, Spirit Creek Middle School over in Hephzibah closed for two weeks due to COVID concerns.

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