Lamar County schools pausing for two weeks due to impacts of COVID-19 surge

Schools in Lamar County will be closed for two weeks as the district works to overcome obstacles related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lamar County School District on Friday posted on its website that the school system would impose a two-week "pause" for all students beginning Monday, August 23, 2021.

"The fact that we have a number of bus drivers out, we couldn't get our kids to and from school, coupled with our quarantined students and quarantined staff, it's getting to a point where we couldn't adequately cover our classes," said Superintendent Dr. Jute Wilson. 

He said the kitchen staff is also out sick and the food supply has also been impacted. 

Dr. Wilson said 36 staff members are out and more than 600 students are missing class on a daily basis. The district has about 2,8000 students. 

A temporary virtual option on the 4-day schedule through Fall break, October 8 will be offered to parents. The district says it will reassess and determine plans moving forward as officials monitor COVID rates.

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 All other staff will report Monday, August 30, where district officials say they will spend the two weeks preparing for the virtual option, deep cleaning, and sanitizing buildings and buses.

Telisha Watkins has two children in the district. Her six-year-old son has already had a bumpy start to the school year.

"My child he had been exposed two times," Watkins said. 

According to Watkins, he had to be quarantined both times. 

 Watkins said both of her kids struggled in school last year due to the changes. She fears this year will be the same. 


Some parents FOX 5 spoke with said they didn't have an opinion on school being paused for two weeks, but Watkins said she's behind it. 

As a single parent who is raising two children, working, and going to school online, she said the school getting a handle on the virus is crucial for her kids' success and for hers.

"With him being quarantined, I'm out of work. It's hard [as] a single parent and for other single parents to pay their bills, try to take care of their kids. I'm speaking for all parents because it's hard on everybody right now," Watkins said. 

A statement sent by the district said in part, "We have fought and will continue to keep our schools open. Our children are behind academically, and every measurable indicator we have supports the importance of face-to-face instruction. However, it has become almost impossible for us to ensure all students can get to school and home each day, while providing quality instruction in a healthy environment."

Classes are expected to resume Tuesday, September 7, 2021.

According to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health released on Wednesday, Lamar County has the fourth-highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the state over the last 14-day period. 

The number of cases and hospitalizations has continued to increase in Georgia. On Thursday, the GDPH reported 9,836 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the two-week average to 6,576. Hospitalizations due to the virus exceeded 4,900. 

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