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Some schools started this week, others will Monday

Barring a significant change in the coronavirus positive rate, or a documented outbreak in the local school-age population, students enrolled at South Panola School District will return to classrooms on Monday, Aug. 17.

An increase in infections around the state, and particularly in Panola and six other counties, led Gov. Tate Reeves to order a delay in the start of public schools (grades 7-12) until next Monday. South Panola administrators decided to delay all returning students until everyone could attend.

North Panola School District has no students returning to its campuses and will be following a distance learning program approved by the State Department of Education.

South Panola has not released information about the number of its students who have chosen distance learning, but Superintendent Tim Wilder said several weeks ago it appeared about half of the district’s students would be in the classrooms on a daily basis.

North Delta School held an open house and “Meet the Waves” event last Friday and regular classes began on Monday, Aug. 10.

Magnolia Heights had students attend a half-day on Friday and full class schedules began on Monday.

Both of the private schools have some students who have chosen to distance learn, but a large majority of the student body have returned, at least initially, to their respective campuses. Both North Delta and Magnolia Heights have also started their fall sports programs, with the Lady Wave playing softball and the Lady Chiefs competing in softball and soccer.

Sports at South Panola have so far been altered slightly, but not cancelled, by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the Governor’s order that requires face masks in some settings, and delayed the start of some schools, statewide positive numbers have begun to drop some. Most encouraging to health officials is the decline in hospitalizations necessary from COVID-19 in the past week.

All area schools that have returned to campus, and those set for next week, have made copies of the return plan and protocol for dealing with the inevitable positive cases that will follow when school starts.