Mississippi’s largest public school district reported its first case of coronavirus, or COVID-19, on Wednesday, Aug. 19, just three days into the new school year for students.
DeSoto County Schools (DCS) officials confirmed that a case of COVID-19 was reported at Hernando High School. The district did not specify whether the case was in a student, teacher or staff member.
The district did say parents whose children were in class with the infected person were contacted by the Mississippi State Department of Health. Close contacts were given quarantine instructions.
DCS has also announced that parents were sent an email on Tuesday stating that it would post weekly updates on COVID-19 in the district on a weekly basis. The updates will be posted on the district website.
Supt. Cory Uselton said the weekly update would be posted to the website by 12 noon each Monday and would report the number of cases discovered by school.
The update will include the number of students who have confirmed cases from the week before. It would also have the number of students who were ordered to be quarantined by the state Department of Health.
In the Tuesday statement, DCS told parents that if their child is in a class with a staff member or student who has tested positive for coronavirus, they would receive an email from MSDH explaining how to check their youngster for symptoms.
DCS has over 35,000 students in 42 attendance centers.
On Tuesday, Aug. 18, Tunica Academy, a nearby private school, sent a letter to parents reporting positive cases that have been found at that school. As of that date, the school reported three students in second grade and the classroom teacher, a fourth-grade teacher, two eighth-grade students, three students in ninth grade, and two adult support staff members, had all tested positive for COVID-19.
Administrators there said in the letter that the second-grade classroom was to quarantine for the next 14 days and would return to class on Sept. 2 with work packets to be sent home with the students to finish during the quarantine.
The ninth-grade students were offered a hybrid model – have the option to attend class or be provided online instruction for the next 14 days.
“We feel that we can and need to continue school with all our other students as safely as we can and for as long as we can,” the letter stated. “We will continue to social distance as much as possible, wear masks when we cannot social distance, and clean/disinfect numerous times daily and nightly.”
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust as needed for the betterment of our students,” the letter stated. It was signed by Headmaster Jeff Gilder and Elementary School Principal Lisa Love, both former administrators in the DeSoto County School District.