D56 unveils new COVID hotline.
In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Laurens County School District 56 has unveiled a new COVID hotline for parents that will allow them to leave questions and concerns regarding the virus or their child.
After receiving information from parents about symptoms, close contacts, positive cases and children who may be pending, Cyndi Coker, coordinator of special programs, said they needed a way for parents to leave information in a central place after hours.
The hotline, which is available to both virtual and face-to-face students, can be accessed during school hours and is easy to use.
“They call and leave a message with their name, child’s name, school and a description of their situation - whether they’ve got a positive case, close contact or they have questions about COVID and the situation, they can leave that,” Coker said. “Someone will return their phone call and then we will dispatch their call to the appropriate person. That person will get back to them within 24 hours or the next school day when school is in session to follow up.”
Calls will initially go to Coker and Lead Nurse Shalina Mode. They will likely dispatch the message to the school nurse or principal at various schools. Coker added that when someone calls the hotline they will not get a live individual on the line.
The hotline went live on Dec. 8 and Coker said they have already received information from parents.
“We immediately had principals who shared it. They sent emails out to parents. It was shared on our social media and we began getting information immediately. Within an hour we had some reported information. We’re already seeing that it is a great tool for communication,” she said.
According to Mode, keeping an open line of communication with parents is key.
“I think this is going to give the parents a comfort to know that they can still leave information over the hotline. I think that just helps us with keeping that line of communication open during the holidays. Our parents have done an excellent job communicating to us anything that needs to be addressed,” she said.
Superintendent David O’Shields is equally as amazed by the parents who have made sure to keep those lines of communication open.
“They truly have been outstanding in making us aware because these two ladies have been the ones having to do the contact tracing. Originally, it was hoped that DHEC would do this, however due to staffing and the overwhelming number of cases, it became impossible,” he said. “These two ladies keep it in real time because the whole nature of a virus such as this is its transmissibility. We have to be mindful that time is either our ally or our opponent. We have to use it as best and quickly as we can so we can notify as quickly as we can.”
With Christmas break nearing for students, Coker said they encourage students to continue the practices they have learned in school over the holidays.
“We hope they continue to wear their masks, practice good hand hygiene. We want them to continue avoiding large crowds. We really want them to monitor their symptoms and reach out to their doctors if they are feeling bad. Just like across the nation, there has been fallout after Thanksgiving from gatherings. We do anticipate some fallout after Christmas. It may not necessarily result in school close contacts, but it could result in children being quarantined due to contacts outside of school,” she said.
Once students come back from break in 2021, O’Shields said they are going to reinforce what they have learned, which includes maintaining a distance of six feet, wearing masks, washing hands and watching for symptoms.
“It is our hope when we come back from Christmas break - we will still be in first semester, but when we transition to second semester in February we are planning on having students who are currently virtual return to us in greater numbers and those currently face-to-face moving to virtual. We’ve asked and received plexiglass, cleaning supplies. We’ve received PPE, electrostatic sprayers. We have quite an arsenal now of disinfectants and disinfecting practices that can lend us back to a normal year,” he said.
There are three methods for parents to use if they have COVID concerns. Call the hotline number at 864-938-2568 or send an email to email@example.com. There are also two Google forms that can be viewed on the District 56 Facebook page and website.