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Delta variant dampens back-to-school excitement

From Page 1 of the Aug 1 issue of The Advertiser.

Laurens County, S.C. – Just a few weeks ago it appeared that children were heading back to a school year finally free of COVID-19 fears, but the rapid increase in cases of the Delta variant has given pause to the back-to- school excitement.

Last week it was announced that in its first three days back in school, Ware Shoals High School in District 51 quickly had to quarantine almost a quarter of its high school population when five students were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Concerns of the rising numbers of COVID cases has prompted University of South Carolina officials to again institute a mask policy, as was also recently announced.

But with state laws now leaning toward a pre-COVID normalcy, both of the county’s public school districts are set to soon reopen for the new school year with “no masks required” policies.

“We are absolutely concerned but we are not fearful because we are going to do all that we can to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak,” said District 56 Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields. “We cannot mandate the vaccine. We cannot mandate masks, though we will encourage anyone who’s more comfortable wearing masks to do so.”

O’Shields said classes will be normal as much as possible but, where space allows, students will still be spread out to provide as much social distancing as possible.

District 55 Superintendent Dr. Ameca Thomas said the district staff is excited about the new school year, although the last few weeks of COVID-19 reports have dampened the enthusiasm a little.

“It’s a tough situation because we all want things to be able to go back to normal like before COVID, but our top priority in all decisions is still safety and health and well being of our students and staff and community,” Thomas said.

Admittedly, that won’t be easy, as most of the 2,000 children who were enrolled in online classes will be returning to their respective schools this month.

“District 55 is still offering a virtual academy for students who wish, and we currently have 130 students enrolled online,” Thomas said. “We have had more calls in the past week or so and there are about 30 additional students we are reviewing.”

While the plexiglass shields were removed from desks and placed in storage at the end of the school year, the district will rein- stall them for any teachers and stu- dents who still want that option.

“We have been working hard to prepare and have everything in place,” Thomas said, “and we will definitely social distance to the extent that it is possible.”


  1. Kennygamesyt on August 10, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    Not wearing a mask i refused to

  2. Cindy Kuhnel on August 15, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    (This comment can go u see this article or in YOUR EDITORAL SECTION). I am a retired nurse who has worked in the Medical Field for 30 years. I have some heartfelt comments re: COVID VACCINES. Being a Christian Conservative I feel it is a real shame that there are those in out state spreading a lot of unfounded truths about the Covid Vaccines. VERY FEW HAVE HAD ADVERSE REACTIONS TO TAKING THESE VACCINES. So much controversy…So Much: “We want “Our Freedom”…FREEDOM WOULD BE TO PUT THIS DISEASE BEHIND US. My guess is that we may see another variant or 2 come yet~~ then see THAT THE VACCINES MAY NOT WORK ANYMORE. There are much too many getting Covid EVEN with being Vaccinated. For the most part~~those vaccinated that do test POSITIVE are having MILD CASES. I commend SELF REGIONAL HOSPITAL for requiring their employees to get the vaccine. I myself are a patient there EVERY MONTH. I have severe Chronic Pain and are grateful for the pain relief I get through the Drs and staff there. The local people that PROTESTED WITH SIGNS THERE RECENTLY would probably ALL AGREE: if they were a patient~~they would feel SAFER KNOWING that the staff TOOK THE VACCINE. We are SO SPOILED IN THE US!! Talk to any person in ANOTHER COUNTRY WAITING FOR THE CHANCE TO BE VACCINATED. Many of our “Customer Service Jobs” are in the Phillipians. The last 2 men I spoke to read:my healthcare “OTC” orders BOTH LOST THEIR DADS TO COVID IN 2020. ONLY SENIORS there can get the vaccine now. My husband and I know at least 15 people that lost their dads to Covid. Several from FL where the Delta strain has some of their hospitals to FULL STATUS. If you have NOT ever worked at a hospital as a nurse in a crisis~~YOU HAVE NO IDEA JUST HOW EXHAUSTING THIS IS. I got my 1st 3 years of Nursing at the Lg VA HOSP in Tampa. Saw everything and never stopped each shift. 2 nurses for 18 VERY SICK PATIENTS…no CNA’s~~we could barely keep up. I GIVE THE HIGHEST PRAISE FOR THOSE ALL OVER WHO DEALT WITH MORE IN THE LAST 1 1/2 years than often in years of patient care. LET’S HAVE SOME COMMON SENSE & GET VACCINATED NOT JUST FOR OURSELVES … BUT FOR OTHERS INCLUDING OUR CHILDREN.

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