Batesville schools report minimal COVID-19 numbers

Published 1:45 pm Wednesday, September 2, 2020

South Panola schools reported just one positive case of COVID-19 infection in the second full week of in-class instruction. All schools are required to report to the Mississippi Department of Health each Monday the number of positive cases, and the number of quarantined students and staff from the previous week.

For the week of Aug. 24-28, South Panola had just one positive case to report – a staff member at Batesville Middle School. On the other five campuses in the district there were no students or staff with positive tests.

A total of four students (two at BES and one each at SPHS and Pope School) were required to go home for a quarantine period because of exposure outside the classroom, and two staff members (one each at BES and SPHS) were considered to have close contact to an positive case and could not be on their campus.

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South Panola administrators began the school year on Aug. 17 with a multi-layered plan to keep classrooms, buses, and common areas sanitized throughout the school day. Additionally, officials installed procedures for students and staff to minimize the amount of “close contact” between teachers, students, and other staff.

Close contact is defined as people being within six feet of one another for 15 consecutive minutes or more. Because of student spacing and teacher protocol in classrooms, few people in the district – other than students who are grouped in individual classes – should come into close contact with others, minimizing the chances of an outbreak in any of the district’s schools.

Should those numbers continue to decline, and parents become more confident of the district’s ability to minimize the risk of outbreaks, more students are expected to transition from distance learning to in-person instruction in the South Panola school system.

North Panola students are only using a distance learning curriculum this semester, and administrators in Sardis and Como are expected to make decisions about when those schools will again be opened for in-person instruction as the semester progresses.

North Delta School students have been in their classrooms for about three weeks and no outbreaks have been reported in the college preparatory school located west of Batesville.

As of Monday, Aug. 31, the State Health Department has recorded 83,594 positive cases in the state resulting in 2,493 deaths.

In Panola County, state health officials say 1,295 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 23 people have died from complications of the virus.