Letter From Superintendent Casey Chambley, Chambers County School District

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Provided by Mr. David L. Bell, Director of Public Relations,  Chambers County School District.

August 24, 2021

Dear Parents and Chambers County Community,
It is my hope that this letter finds your family safe and well. The good news is that we have
successfully completed our second full week of school as well as kicked off our fall athletic
season. The troubling news is that Covid-19 continues to impact our communities and schools.

On Wednesday, August 18, 2021, during our regular scheduled board meeting, I recommended that Chambers County Schools continue wearing masks inside all buildings as well as during all bus transportation. We will continue to follow the advice and guidance from our local medical health officials that masks will help slow the spread of COVID. As previously stated, we will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate in September.
In an effort to constantly evaluate how this virus changes and reacts, we must also be flexible and ready to alter our procedures to keep our students and staff safe along with keeping our schools open. Chambers County School District will be adding the following protocols to our 21/22 COVID reopening plan.

Beginning Wednesday, August 25, 2021, we will make a few changes to our COVID protocols. All Pre-K and Kindergarten students will be required to wear a mask while inside any school building. We understand the importance of keeping our schools safely open. However, we equally understand the importance of parents having to work and the difficulty they face finding childcare for younger children. In the beginning, it was our intent to not mandate masks for the pre-school aged students. However, this new variant caused several challenges in our schools, we feel that it is best to require ALL students to wear a mask to slow the spread.

I have heard from many of you and your concerns regarding masks. I fully understand and
respect your position. I share many of your concerns and dislike with masks. I am thankful that our state leaders have allowed each local district the authority to implement its own policies and procedures. Each district, school, and community are different and may require separate policies or protocols at various times in order to keep our schools safe and open.
As much as we want life and school to continue and return to our old normal, WE MUST STAY STRONG AND FOCUSED ON THE RECOMMENDED PROTOCOLS TO KEEP OUR CHILDREN SAFE.

We must continue to stress the importance of hand washing and keeping our distance when
possible.

Starting Monday, August 30, 2021, Chambers County Schools will begin reporting COVID
numbers to you at the end of each school day. As stated earlier, this is a very fluid situation and is changing daily and at times hourly. We seek to provide the most relevant data available for individuals to make the most informed decisions regarding their children. The CDC has changed its definition of “Close Contact” for schools. According to the CDC, individual students should quarantine when they have been in “Close Contact” with a confirmed positive Covid-19 case. The difference is what the CDC now considers “Close Contact”. For example, if a positive COVID student is wearing a mask and a student close to them is also wearing a mask, they are not
considered to be “Close Contact”, if they are both masked and remain at least 3 feet apart. This is drastically different from the definition last year. According to the new CDC guidance, there are three factors that would prevent a student from being quarantined from school.

1. If they have been vaccinated.

2. If they have had COVID in the past 90 days.

3. If they are correctly wearing a mask and remain 3 feet away from the positive student
who is also properly wearing a mask.

Let me also be clear that The Chambers County School District wants and intends to offer the most up to date and accurate information possible. However, everyone must understand that the numbers we report will not always be perfectly accurate. The specific times parents notify our nurses and administration could have an impact on the numbers reported. For example, we will report our school and district numbers each day at 4:00 PM, CST. You may know of or hear of a student testing positive later that afternoon, however, those numbers are only calculated into the totals after they have been officially reported to the school nurse. We also want you to be aware that there will also be positive COVID cases in our schools that are never reported as well as students who are asymptomatic. The numbers we release may not tell the entire story, but hopefully will offer some insight and guidance to help slow the spread.

Another point to remember is that the numbers reported will also include students and staff
members that have quarantined due to close contact. This could be from exposure at school, home, or in the community. We will do our very best to provide the most accurate information possible. We will NOT release any information regarding the personal identity of positive students or staff.

It is my opinion and recommendation that if you have a positive COVID case in your home, you should NOT SEND that child nor other children in the home to school. The safest thing for everyone involved is for all children in the home to stay at home through the 10-day quarantine period and until they are no longer exhibiting symptoms. It is also important to know all students in the home will be given Excused COVID absences for a documented diagnosed case in their own home. Please also remember the new CDC guidelines state that if your child is in the same classroom within 3-6 feet from a diagnosed positive case, this is NOT considered “Close Contact” and does NOT require quarantine IF they are wearing mask.

We will continue to do everything within our power to keep everyone in our system and
community safe. I appreciate the help and guidance from our local health officials. We are
seeing a daily increase in the number of vaccines being given. It is my hope and prayer that we are soon on the better side of this horrible virus. Acting together, we should combine our efforts with vigilance and determination to stop the spread. But until we have reached that point, we must not lose focus. We must continue to distance ourselves as much as possible, wash our hands, use sanitizer throughout the day and wear a mask when you are indoors and around others when distance is not an option.

Thank you for your patience as we all continue to grow and learn through these difficult times. We will be stronger together and together we will overcome this obstacle. We in Chambers County truly have a history of “Strength Woven In” to the fabric of who we are as a community. Thank you for entrusting your child’s education to us. It is truly an honor to serve you and our community. Chambers Strong!

Warm regards,

Casey Chambley

Superintendent

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