DeSoto County Schools saw another week with an increase in new COVID-19 cases among staff and students between Oct. 5 and Oct. 9. The district reported 73 total new cases, with 46 students and 27 staff members testing positive for the virus.
Additionally, 381 students were quarantined last week following possible exposure, up from last week’s 136 new student quarantines.
DeSoto Central High School and Southaven High School both reported outbreaks on their football teams, with 54% of the district’s positive student cases on both teams. The two schools halted all football practices and games for 14 days.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, who visited DeSoto County last week, said that he was concerned about the impact of athletics on the ability of schools to safely stay open.
“I think it's so important for us to make sure we prioritize the educational part,” Dobbs said last week at a press conference. “I know that in Mississippi, we really pride ourselves on athletics, but that's also one of our bigger vulnerabilities.”
This week’s new cases and quarantines bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in the district since the start of the semester to 282 and the total number of those quarantined since the start of the semester to 1,438, according to data from the state.
The increase in new cases comes after three weeks that the district reported a decrease in the number of new cases and those in quarantine. There were 32 more cases reported this week than last week and 245 more students required to quarantine.
DeSoto County Schools is the largest district in the state of Mississippi with over 30,000 students. About 13,000 of those students chose to start the semester by attending classes virtually.
The numbers released by the district do not include private schools in the county or students who are quarantined by the Mississippi State Department of Health for situations unrelated to schools.