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Pearl River County schools suspend in-person learning due to rising COVID-19 numbers

More than 100 students and 17 teachers have tested positive over the last week, said school officials.
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 7:53 AM CDT
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CARRIERE, Miss. (WLOX) - Several schools in South Mississippi are struggling with outbreaks of COVID-19, causing them to switch to virtual learning. Because of the increasing number of students and employees testing positive for the virus, one district has decided all of its schools will temporarily suspend in-person classes.

At a school board meeting Thursday night, Pearl River County school officials voted in favor of switching all students to virtual learning for two weeks. That switch goes into effect on Monday.

The decision was made after the number of positive cases more than doubled in just a few days time. On Aug. 9, Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said 45 students and 10 employees had tested positive. As of 2pm Thursday - just three days later - those number had increased to 101 students and 17 employees who have COVID-19.

Of the 101 children who have tested positive, 32 are elementary students, 24 are in middle school, and 45 are high-school aged. The district currently has more than 600 additional students quaranting, which includes 150 elementary students, 199 middle school students, and 272 high school students.

Parents in support of the decision and those who are against it both appeared at the meeting, passionately giving their thoughts on the divisive issue.

”I stand opposed to any and all mandates, to closing the schools, in any way,” said one resident.

The potential suspension of in-person learning was a bitter pill to swallow for many, but some feel it is what is best for the schools and community.

”I am here in support of the proposed plan,” said one mother. “While both my husband and I work and will have to take time off during the suspension, it is a small price to pay to keep our community and children healthy.”

While no one wants students to not be in class, the numbers are just high to risk it right now, said school officials.

“I don’t like the data. I don’t think anyone here likes the data,” said Lumpkin. “I don’t like suspending in-person learning. I don’t think anyone here likes suspending in-person learning.”

Starting on Monday, students in the PRC district will be virtual until at least Aug. 27. The school board will hold a special call meeting on Aug. 25 to further re-evaluate the district’s relaunch plan before students return to campus.

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