The COVID-19 cases are continuing to spike along with concerns for safe teaching. The spike in cases has forced the school Superintendent, Dr.Kelli Joseph of St. Helena Parish, to return to virtual learning.
“We began our mass COVID-19 testing process with our district employees on Thursday, November 12th. One employee tested positive. This employee has been placed in quarantine and will not return to school until medical authorities have determined that the employee is no longer positive. Due to this discovery and to prevent a possible spread across all our campuses, we will revert to eLearning via Microsoft Teams during the week of November 16, 2020,” said Dr.Joseph.
According to the World Health Organization, the decision to return to a teaching environment depends on the individual and should include consideration of local disease trends, as well as the measures being put in place in schools to prevent further spread. Deciding to close, partially close, or reopen schools should be guided by a risk-based approach, to maximize the educational, well-being, and health benefit for students, teachers, staff, and the wider community, and help prevent a new outbreak of COVID-19 in the community.
According to the CDC, surveillance indicators tracking levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus circulation and associated illnesses have been increasing nationally since September 2020. The percentage of deaths due to pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19 increased during the first three weeks of October.
Despite the increase in cases, Dr. Joseph feels confident in her staff’s ability to carry out their duties during the pandemic.
“I have an awesome staff. They have embraced this challenge albeit the difficulty. They’ve learned how to accept challenges and develop more stamina. They’ve learned how to work better as a team. Rather than run away from a challenge they run towards it with swiftness.” said Dr. Joseph.
Still, St. Helena faced a variety of difficult challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My biggest challenge was getting access to the internet. This pandemic has shed a light on the inequitable issues that we face every day. If it wasn’t for the CARES Act, we would not have been able to purchase all the necessary resources,” St. Helena Superintendent, Dr. Kelli Joseph.
According to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, The Education Stabilization Fund-Rethink K12 Education Models Grants provide support to educational agencies in states with the highest coronavirus burden to address specific educational needs of students, their parents, and teachers in public and non-public elementary and secondary schools in accordance with the CARES Act.
The stress of Dr. Joseph’s proffesion not without an emotional toll.
“I feel like the weight of the world is on my soldiers because every decision that’s made is literally a life-or-death decision. I have to make the best decision for the children,” said Dr. Joseph
In the end Dr. Joseph want to focus on staying optimistic saying, “I’m looking forward to the day that we can reflect on this pandemic and see how much all of us have grown professionally and personally.”