Vernon School Board: Students safest in schools even during pandemic

Published 3:10 pm Friday, September 3, 2021

The Vernon Parish School Board discussed the most recent COVID-19 updates and district case numbers Thursday morning during its regular session, and officials said the data reinforces their belief that students are safest in school during the pandemic.

According to Child Welfare and Attendance Director Hub Jordan, as of last week 12 Vernon Parish students are quarantining at home after an exposure to COVID-19 in a school setting, while 141 Vernon Parish students are under quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure that occurred outside of a school setting.

Jordan also reported that nine staff members in the district have tested positive for COVID-19, but that none of those cases were the result of in-school exposure.

“So you can see the numbers show you that we feel like the kids are safer at school,” Jordan stated.

Superintendent James Williams said the exposures that did occur in school have been traced to athletics programs.

“When it comes to athletics, all it takes is one kid and then everyone else is going to come into contact with them,” Williams stated.

Since the data was collected for this week’s report, officials said a “spike” in cases has been observed at the Evans school campus. Jordan said those numbers will be reflected in next week’s report.

While school officials said the numbers were a positive sign of pandemic protocols being enforced throughout the district, Jordan said he did observe a troubling trend in local cases that is similar to those across the state in that children are accounting for the majority of positive cases.

“In comparison to last year the numbers are kind of reversed, and that comes from also the Delta variant and shows that it may be attacking some younger kids,” Jordan stated.

The district continues to require students wear a mask while in school, except when outdoors and on playgrounds. Williams reiterated that though some complaints have been received at the central office regarding students and teachers being seen maskless while outdoors, that the schools are adhering to the state mandate and the guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control.

“We’re doing the best that we can with this; none of it’s perfect. I wish we didn’t have to deal with this, but unfortunately I don’t make that decision,” Williams said.