Mississippi schools close through April 17 as COVID-19 cases rise

2 confirmed cases in DeSoto County

Mississippi schools closed until April 17

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced Thursday that all public schools would remain closed until April 17.

This comes as the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state rises to 50.

The Mississippi State Department of Health says there are now two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in DeSoto County, including a dispatcher at the Hernando Police Department.

In a Facebook video, Governor Reeves said he knows closing schools is hard on families and school districts.

“In my nearly 17 years of serving the public, it is perhaps the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” said Reeves.

First case of COVID-19 in DeSoto County

Hernando Police Chief Scott Worsham said there are a total of four dispatchers who will be off for at least 14 days. That includes the one who already tested positive for COVID-19.

The chief says two more have been tested for the virus, but results are not back and the fourth is staying home because they feel sick.

Worsham says the dispatcher who tested positive was a relatively new employee, but he couldn’t say much about the specific case.

He learned about it Tuesday night.

“Being the first documented case in DeSoto County is alarming for our area in general, however, everyone knew that this was coming. It’s fluid,” said Worsham.

Worsham says dispatchers sit about 10 to 15 feet apart in a large room.

Before this positive COVID-19 case was even announced, Worsham says the department was sanitizing areas daily.

Wednesday, a cleaning company did a deep cleaning of areas like the police department, city hall and community center.

Worsham says he’s asked staff that are over 60 to stay home as a precautionary measure.

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DeSoto County Schools plans to serve grab and go meals to students at six different sites until schools are back in session.

“I feel like we’ll be better educators as a result of this because we’re going to learn more about distance learning and there may be some things we’re able to use in the upcoming school years,” said DCS Superintendent Cory Uselton.

Teachers will be reaching out to students about upcoming assignments and will be taking an online approach for now.

This time off from school will give crews a chance to do a deep cleaning of facilities.

District leaders ensure school staff will still be paid during closures.

For more stories about the COVID-19 outbreak, including resources for people who are affected, visit www.wmcactionnews5.com/coronavirus.

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