Parents concerned after social media photos show crowded Lowndes High halls
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Lowndes High School (LHS) is still under renovations, but the renovations could be raising red flags about overcrowding for parents.
On the first day of school, several photos on social media showed students packed shoulder to shoulder. Afterward, many people raised safety questions.
“We’ve already had COVID,” said Jamie Boyett, a parent to an LHS student. “I don’t want my children to get COVID again, and right now my daughter, she already has medical issues. She has seizures and sometimes, she can’t walk. And what if she passes out? Is somebody going to be there? Are they going to just trample her? It’s concerning.”
“It’s very scary. Because me being a teacher myself, we have to do those drills and I have instilled those drills with my children. And my daughter was scared because she’s like, ‘Mama, what’s going to happen if something happens. How am I going to get out? Where am I going to go? There is nowhere to go. I can’t push through that crowd of people.’”
A number of parents took to social media with concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19 or monkeypox.
The Valdosta Fire Department visited the school, to see if the overcrowding issue violated fire codes.
Lowndes County School System issued the following statement:
“The Lowndes County School System is aware of the hallway photos that circulated. Keep in mind, these photos were a glimpse of the first day of school. Which means 3,000 students were learning to navigate a new building and locate classrooms at Lowndes High School while the campus remains under construction and renovation.
System level administrators and Lowndes High School administrators met with JCI Contractors Senior Project Manager Jared Hall. At this time, the decision was made to expedite the installation of a second major thoroughfare to alleviate congestion. Therefore, JCI will immediately begin work to connect a sidewalk from the north stairwell of the main building to E wing, creating a second walkway across campus while maintaining barriers to the construction zone. Upon completion, student traffic flow will be re-assessed. In addition, LHS administrators are working with interior student traffic flow patterns to assist students in identifying the most efficient routes during class change while avoiding congestion.
Yesterday morning LCS system administrators, LHS administrators, JCI Contractors, McCall & Associates Architecture, and Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department met with the City of Valdosta Fire Chief Brian Boutwell, Fire Marshall James Clinkscales, and Fire Inspector Dereck Willis. This collaborative effort evaluated the current situation and the upcoming plans. All parties agreed these modifications were sufficient to provide a safe environment for staff and students, which is everyone’s priority. The plan that is in motion is to be completed within the next week, at which time the team will progress monitor the activities to determine the next steps.
Please understand that this will be a process while we remain under construction. We will continue working diligently to address traffic flow and always make student safety our number one priority.”
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