/Not all Mississippi schools are reporting COVID-19 results as required

Not all Mississippi schools are reporting COVID-19 results as required

Nonprofit Mississippi News Although it is required by law and can be punished by a fine, not all Mississippi schools report information on COVID-19 infection. This makes it difficult to determine how many teachers and students are infected this school year. A Mississippi Today analysis shows that schools and school districts from at least 15 of the state’s 82 counties haven’t submitted their COVID-19 infection and quarantine numbers to state health department since late August. It has been unclear whether all 82 counties have received a weekly report from the health department, which would make it difficult to determine the number of cases in many schools and the true extent of the infection in Mississippi. This could impact future policy decisions, such as whether schools should be closed. The health department issued an Aug. 14 state order requiring both public and private schools to submit weekly aggregate data on the previous week and the entire school year. Each school must designate someone to do this task. It is difficult to estimate the number of private schools that participate, as not all are reporting. The Mississippi Department of Health lists only private schools that reported their COVID-19 data. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer, stated that while many private and public schools have followed the order, some are still not. Dobbs stated that the order is a public health order. According to statute, it carries a fine. It could also be considered a serious crime (to avoid reporting),” Dobbs told a press conference on Oct 12. “We want more collaboration and make sure people understand the benefits of it, and work with them to overcome these barriers.” MSDH gathers data on how COVID-19 affects schools using a variety of metrics. According to a spokesperson for MDE, schools are required to provide numbers for the following categories. The Mississippi Department of Education gives guidance and direction to districts while the Department of Health tracks the data and reports it. Paul Byers, the State Epidemiologist, stated that the state health department has created teams to assist schools in reporting. On Oct. 12, he stated that there are teams across the state that have been designated to work with schools. He also said that school outreach is part of what he did. READ MORE: Weekly update: How Many students and teachers have been tested positive for COVID-19 at your school? According to the Mississippi Department of Health, 3,633 teachers and students have been found to be positive for COVID-19 as of October 15. Erica Webber Jones, president of Mississippi Association of Educators said that she has received many calls from teachers asking about the best way to deal with coronavirus. She said that school districts need to “get on the same page.” When it comes reporting cases and communicating with teachers, Webber-Jones stated. Jones stated, “It differs from one district to the next. That is another thing I find alarming.” “I had a teacher reach out to me to ask me if I should quarantine for 14 day. “I was told no. It’s confusing. Our educators are already stressed enough. According to the CDC, 576 children aged 18 and under were admitted to hospital between March 1 and July 25. Henderson stated that Mississippi has seen one death below the age of 4, 11 deaths between 18-24 and one death due to multisystem inflammatory syndrome (11-20). She said that the mortality rates for African-American, Native American and Hispanic children are higher than those of white children. Henderson stated that children are generally not as infected with the disease in terms of their death rates. “The mortality rates for young children are very low. However, we don’t want them getting it at school, or taking it home to their grandparents and parents. We also don’t want teachers to be at risk. This is why Henderson stated that schools should report data to health professionals so they can give the necessary resources. She explained that if there’s an outbreak in a school or a large number of children quarantined, the health department might come in to help. They need this information to make the best use of those resources.” Henderson said.