Reported cases of COVID-19 have dropped significantly in the Tate County School District over the past few weeks, but students and teachers shouldn’t put away those masks just yet.
The Tate County school board unanimously agreed at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 12, to keep the current mask mandate in place for at least another month. The policy requires students and staff to wear masks on buses and inside buildings on all campuses for protection against COVID-19.
“Masks have definitely helped keep kids in school and saved 3,704 days of instruction we would have lost otherwise,” said Superintendent Alee’ Dixon.
Masks were optional in Tate County schools when classes resumed at the beginning of August for the 2021-22 school year. The school board altered the original policy at last month’s meeting and voted unanimously for a mask mandate which officially went into effect Sept. 20.
Dixon presented some eye-opening statistics to school board members before making a recommendation to extend the mandate until the November meeting when it will be reviewed and reconsidered. She said 112 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in the Tate County School District when masks were optional. There have been 25 positive tests since the new policy was adopted.
Dixon also pointed out 473 individuals were under quarantine the first six weeks of school causing some students to miss valuable classroom instruction time. Only 97 have been quarantined since Sept. 20.
According to guidelines from the Mississippi Department of Health, a fully vaccinated student or staff member that comes in close contact with an infected person does not have to quarantine unless they develop symptoms. Unvaccinated students and staff are to be quarantined for a period of 10 days if the individual has no symptoms during that time.
With no statewide mask mandate in place, Gov. Tate Reeves has left it up to individual school districts to determine whether face masks are worn by students in Mississippi's K-12 schools.
Senatobia City Schools are under a district-imposed mask mandate implemented before classes began in August. The district reported 112 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 and 42 have been quarantined since Aug. 5.
According to statistics from the Mississippi State Department of Health, Tate County reported an additional 18 cases of COVID-19 from Monday, Oct. 11 through Friday, Oct. 15, and one virus-related death.