DeSoto County Schools superintendent responds to new COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 cases spreading across DeSoto Co. Schools

DESOTO COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Hundreds of students in DeSoto County are in quarantine after the school district confirmed 81 new COVID-19 cases among students.

WMC Action News 5 spoke to DeSoto County Schools Superintendent Cory Uselton on Monday afternoon.

“We’ve been educating students in person and virtually throughout the entire school year and there have been challenges along the way,” said Uselton.

He says the biggest challenge this year has been providing a safe learning environment while trying to make sure that students, including those learning virtually, get the best possible education.

Numbers the district released on Monday shows just how challenging that is.

The district says 81 students tested positive for COVID-19 between Nov. 9-13.

The district says 755 students across the district are now in quarantine.

Desoto County Schools says Hernando High School has the highest number of new COVID-19 cases among students -- 14.

In addition, the district says 80 students at Hernando High School are now in quarantine.

“In high schools and middle schools, students are changing classes more, and so they might have five or six different groups of students that they interact with,” said Uselton. “They also go to the lunchroom or they have class changes, things of that nature, where you don’t see that as much in the elementary schools. So, we expect to see more quarantines in the middles and highs when you have those positive cases.”

Uselton says high school students are also being tested more and more likely to show symptoms.

The district says 38 staff members tested positive between Nov. 9-13.

Data from the Mississippi State Department of Health shows that dozens of teachers and staff members have tested positive since the start of the school year, including 27 teachers and staff members at Hernando Elementary.

Uselton says the district is doing what it can to keep everyone safe by following COVID-19 protocols.

“Each week we’re monitoring the situation. Our numbers have gone up the last two or three weeks. We sincerely hope that the numbers do not continue to go up,” said Uselton.

But if they do, he says the district has a plan to address it, including possibly moving some campuses online.

“We look at everything on a case-by-case basis with each school,” said Uselton. “We have 38 traditional campuses and so if we have one campus that needed to go virtual or two campuses that needed to go virtual, we would look at that on a case-by-case basis instead of looking at it district-wide.”

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