/Mississippi teacher’s death during first week of school stokes COVID-19 fears

Mississippi teacher’s death during first week of school stokes COVID-19 fears

Nonprofit Mississippi News This week, a Lafayette County teacher was killed while self-quarantining for COVID-19 symptoms. There are fears that an epidemic could develop the week teachers and students return from school. According to Mississippi Today, Nacoma James (42 years old) was a teacher at Lafayette Middle School. She also served as an assistant high school football coach. James was not among the many teachers and students who returned to school this week in anticipation of the start the new school year. Pugh stated that although no one had confirmed his COVID diagnosis, he did self-quarantine this week. He said that he was with students last Thursday during summer workouts for (high school) football teams. Although I don’t know exactly what he was experiencing, he wasn’t with any students or teachers this week. Pugh stated that James was present at football workouts all summer and that district officials were doing contact tracing to see if any students may have been exposed. Pugh stated that in his 30 years of education, and 12 as a superintendent, he has lost more sleep worrying about keeping children safe than any other thing. Is this worrying? Absolutely. Yes. This worries me greatly.” Mississippi is one of the most dangerous COVID-19 hotspots in the world. [Mississippi has the country’s highest COVID-19 positive rate and allows most schools to reopen] Gov. Tate Reeves was the only elected official that could postpone the opening of schools at the state level. He announced that he would allow all schools to reopen personally this month. Reeves acted against the advice of top state medical experts who publicly urged him to delay school reopenings until September. Reeves’ decision was immediately criticized by many education advocates and health experts. Reeves’ decision was criticized by the Mississippi Association of Educators as “reckless” and “irresponsible.” It also put students, educators, and their families at “risk.” The Corinth Schools District, which was the first to reopen schools in July, is now managing the outbreak at all its schools. Nearly 150 students had been quarantined as a result of the virus being detected in at least six students and two teachers who tested positive on Thursday. On Thursday, Dr. Carey Wright was asked by the state’s superintendent for education if she expected a similar situation when most districts resume in person instruction. Wright stated, “Let’s just say, I won’t surprise,” because she believes that COVID doesn’t take prisoners. It has no boundaries and knows no political or socioeconomic classes. It is important to be extremely diligent and to follow through, I believe. [Gov. Reeves ignores expert advice and delays school for only 7% of Mississippi students. Wright said that “(State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs] stated that if everyone would follow the basic rules, then we would all be in such a better place.” Everyone should wear a mask and everyone should social distancing. Also, everyone should wash their hands and ensure that hygiene…areas are clean. Reeves said that this would go a long ways, so we have to really rely upon our schools, our principals, our teachers, and our superintendents. Reeves praised Lafayette County School District for its hybrid approach to reopening schools in a Wednesday press conference. The district divided students from its four schools into two groups this week. For the first three weeks, which begin this week, both groups will attend school separately. All students will then return to the buildings on Aug. 24. During the telephone interview on Thursday, Pugh was audibly upset and called James “an outstanding educator” who was beloved by his students as well as his colleagues. Pugh stated that James was a student in one of his very first classes when he was 13. He was a wonderful young man and such a loving person. This is a terrible loss. It’s been a very difficult day.”