Parker said it is not known how many children and family members may have been exposed to the virus. The event was not sponsored by the city of Ludowici or the Long County Board of Commissioners, but it was well attended by public officials, according to the statement. The effort to host such a holiday event was to keep “some sense of normalcy to these trying times,” Parker said.
“My children both had their picture made with Santa, and their smiles were bigger than any day when they head off to school, where the same risk of exposure exist,” said Parker, adding the two people who tested positive had good intentions and would have not attended the event if they knew of their statuses.
“I have personally known both “Santa” and “Mrs. Claus” my entire life and I can assure everyone that they would have never knowingly done anything to place any children in danger,” Parker said in the statement. “They have both filled these roles for many years, and bringing joy to children during the holidays is one of the most important parts of their lives.”
The potential mass exposure involving children comes within days of several school systems opting to quarantine due to a rash of COVID-19 cases for staff and students. In South Georgia, more than 200 students and several staff members are quarantining through the end of the year after being exposed at Lowndes County schools and out in the community.
Lowndes, like other counties, has not decided to change its plans to have in-person classes next semester. Officials have opted to sanitize school buildings, wait out quarantines and then return to school buildings in January.