As schools across Mississippi begin to reopen, the Department of Health is beginning to track COVID-19 cases among students and staff members.
During today’s press briefing, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs stated that 27 schools have reported COVID-19 cases with a total of 42 cases — 17 staff members and 25 students.
Cases have been reported at schools in the following counties:
Webster, Tippah, Tate, Pontotoc, Forrest, Jones, Winston, Jackson, Holmes, Grenada, Chickasaw, Lowndes, Pearl River, Union.
Some schools have already had to quarantine a large number of students, including Gulfport High School. In a Facebook post, the school explained that they had to send approximately 100 students home after they were exposed to a staff member showing “mild symptoms of COVID-19.” Dr. Dobbs said examples like this show that there is still work to be done as schools reopen.
“To me, that suggests that our classes are too crowded. We haven’t done a successful job of blending different schedules with a combination of online learning,” he said.
Dr. Dobbs also said that they were unaware of the Gulfport situation at the time of the press conference.
Additionally, Dr. Dobbs explained that students and teachers must wear masks, regardless of the choice to wear a face shield.
“A face shield does not remove the need to wear a mask. The mask protects you and those around you. The face shield is an added level of protection for the wearer,” Dr. Dobbs noted.
At this time, the state’s top medical official stated “we don’t have evidence of transmission within a school” and that students are contracting the virus outside of the classroom.
Governor Tate Reeves stated that while he is concerned with the number of cases in schools, he went on to commend schools for taking a proactive approach in identifying cases and attempting to limit the spread of the virus.
Watch today’s full briefing below: