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COVID-19 dropping in Panola County

Many Pope School students, HS band under quarantine due to contact

Panola County’s rate of positive coronavirus infections is less than of the state’s overall average for the past two weeks, although a few positive cases in the South Panola School District has forced officials to move about 200 students to either quarantine, or distance learning only, status in the past week.

Overall, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported Tuesday that 94,201 cases on COVID-19 have been confirmed by tests in the state since the data was first recorded March 11. Of those positives, the state has attributed 2,846 deaths.

In Panola County, 27 COVID-19 patients have died during the pandemic, and 1,449 citizens have tested positive. Fewer than 10 percent of those have required hospitalization stays or multiple emergency room visits for symptoms, and many had mild symptoms.

In the past 10 days, Panola County has reported just 84 new cases of coronavirus, a smaller daily average than the state’s rolling two-week average and much less than a period 45-60 days ago when the county was regularly having twice or three times as many positive cases each reporting day.

School district officials make weekly reports to the MSDH (available on the official SPSD website) and many fewer cases of COVID-19 have been reported than in neighboring counties and districts.

North Panola School District chose to have all its students participate in distance learning this semester, and no students are on campus except for those participating in extracurricular activities. Numbers of infections from that district are not available.

Although the district has had few students or teachers test positive, because of the guidelines issued for schools by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has forced officials to notify multiple families that students would have to be in quarantine because of close contact with persons with positive results.

Last Friday, Sept. 18, parents with children who attend Pope School learned that all students in grades 7th and 8th would not be allowed to participate in classroom learning for 14 days because of three positive coronavirus tests in the 7th grade population.

All 7th graders were placed on quarantine status and were not allowed to be on campus, even as spectators for extracurricular activities. Because the 8th graders used the same facilities and teachers, but had no positive cases, they were placed on distance learning status. Those students were required to transition to laptop lessons at home, but were eligible to take part in sports and other activities, still following guidelines for social distancing and hand washing.

This week, the school district announced on its website that all members of the Panola High School band had been placed on quarantine because of three positive cases among that group in the past 14 days. Those students will not be allowed to take part in their regular performances at this week’s home football game.

Panola County was declared a “hotspot” for coronavirus by Gov. Tate Reeves six weeks ago, but since that time local infections have fallen. Both Panola Medical Center and the host of medical clinics in the county have continued to perform daily testings, many able to provide patients with results within 24 hours and some within 30 minutes.