DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - Desoto County Schools reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases with 125 total among students and staff the week before the winter break.
During a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, state health officials answered questions about transmission in children and whether parents should be concerned about students returning to the classroom in the Spring.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says there have been cases that can be severe for children.
“Last week we had four pediatric patients in the ICU at UMC with COVID-19. So, it can be bad. It can kill kids. It’s something that everybody needs to be careful about,” stated Dobbs.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says relaxed social gatherings outside of school may be what’s mainly contributing to transmission among kids.
“We feel like in that very structured environment within a classroom setting children are relatively protected. Where we let our guard down and where it really breaks up is outside of that school setting when children are exposed to multiple other social activities where they may not be wearing a mask,” said Byers.
Both officials continue to emphasize the importance of avoiding gatherings during the holiday season.
Desoto County Schools’ rise in cases comes as the MSDH and CDC adjusted quarantine protocols for schools, reducing the time period to seven days if someone tests negative and has no symptoms, or 10 days without a test but with no symptoms.
A spokesperson with the district told WMC that school will resume Jan. 5. Parents were given a choice this month between in-person instruction and virtual instruction.
The spokesperson also sent a statement that said:
“DeSoto County Schools follows the quarantine protocols given to school districts by the CDC and the Mississippi State Department of Health. During the second 9-weeks, 75% of students were learning in-person. That percentage will increase to 77% for the third 9-weeks. In mid-February, parents will choose their option for the fourth 9-weeks”.