Back to School: 18 COVID-19 Cases, 197 Quarantines in Tupelo Schools

TUPELO, Mississippi – Tupelo Public School District reported a total of 18 positive COVID-19 cases during its first week back to school, which resulted in an additional 197 “close contact” students being quarantined.

The Daily Journal reported today that, of the 18 new cases, eight of them were found in elementary schools, with two cases among Kindergarten – 2nd grade students, three among 3rd – 5th grade students, and three among 6th – 8th grade students. The additional 10 cases were all found at the high school.

“The TPSD school nurses and administrative team have been doing an outstanding job monitoring COVID-19 cases and tracing contacts with guidance from the MSDH,” TPSD Superintendent Dr. Rob Picou said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to keep schools open and keep COVID-19 out of schools. We continue to reinforce safety protocols and our capacity to deliver online educational services for our Distance Learning Model.”

According to their official Path to Recovery plan, TPSD is encourages parents to self-monitor their students’ health and report any suspected cases of COVID-19 to the district. The plan outlines three phases of reopening Tupelo schools, ranging from Substantial Spread to Low/No Spread of the virus. It highlights the fact that TPSD is currently employs the Minimal/Moderate Spread model, as less than 3% of Tupelo students have thus far been impacted, either through a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or a close-contact quarantine.

However, the Minimal/Moderate Spread model specifies that the spread be isolated to less than three cases within any one group of students. As this week’s statistics show three or more cases at several age tiers and the state’s overall case numbers have spiked back over 1,000 per day, the district may soon be forced to consider downgrading to the Substantial Spread model in order to prevent further community spread.

Aleigh Farris

Aleigh Farris is a writer, performer, and small business owner from Tupelo, Mississippi. You can hear her work on the upcoming podcasts Radio Analekta and Once Shattered.

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