Before classes began in August, teachers planned to teach in a way that would minimize the spread of the virus. 

As the fall semester comes to a close, DeSoto County Schools reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases. The district reported 125 total new cases, with 78 students and 47 staff members testing positive for the virus.

Additionally, 662 students were quarantined last week following possible exposure, an increase from last week’s report of 525 new student quarantines.

After a mid-semester spike, the number of new cases in schools was seeing a downward trend. This week, however, the district saw its worst week since the semester started.  For the first nine weeks, the district recorded some of the lowest numbers of cases per capita in the state. 

The last record for new cases reported by the school district was set Nov. 16, with 119 new cases. Then, more student quarantines were reported: 755.

The new record comes at the same time that the district decided to loosen quarantine policies after the option was presented by the state department of health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The increased risk of the new policy will be minimal, according to the CDC.

This also comes at a time when more students are expected to return to classrooms in January. About 600 students, or 2% of those enrolled in DeSoto County Schools, will move from virtual to in-person learning in the next nine weeks.

This comes as COVID-19 is spreading through the county faster than ever before and ICU capacities are being stretched, according to data from the state department of health.

DeSoto County now has reported more cases of COVID-19 since March than any other county in Mississippi.

Though some of those cases represent a backlog in reporting, most of them represent recent tests in the community, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

DeSoto County’s rate of transmission is now defined as a “severe outbreak” according to one model.

The county now reports about 150 new cases of the virus each day — a number that has been growing in recent weeks.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, DeSoto County has reported 13,165 cases and 128 deaths. 

Still, the community faces faster spread of the virus than ever before.

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