All Kindergarten Students Quarantined, School Tells Parents in Late-Night Text

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs confirmed yesterday that public schools have quarantined at least 8,000 Mississippi students, teachers and staff since schools began reopening less than a month ago. Photo courtesy MSDH

An Alcorn County, Miss., elementary school is ordering all kindergarten students in each of its classes to quarantine at home for two weeks starting tomorrow, parents learned via text message late this evening.

“(Kossuth Elementary School) Kindergarten Parents and Students, I apologize for the short notice. This is not something we want to do, but we believe this is the right thing to do,” Kor Charla Essary wrote in a text message that parents began receiving around 9 p.m. tonight. “Due to positive Covid cases, it has become necessary to quarantine all kindergarten classes away from campus beginning tomorrow.”

The quarantine will last from Aug. 27 until Sept. 8, Essary wrote.

“Teachers will begin contacting you tomorrow to let you know how we will continue to get instruction to your children,” she wrote. “Again, I apologize for the inconvenience I know this will cause, but I do believe it is necessary. I pray all of you stay well, and this will soon be over.”

A parent shared the text with the Mississippi Free Press this evening on condition of anonymity. That parent was puzzled that the school waited to send the message so late at night. On Facebook, other parents posted on the Alcorn School District’s Facebook page to express their disapproval at the late-night kindergarten quarantine announcement. Several shared concerns that schools had stopped checking students’ temperatures.

The Mississippi Free Press was not able to reach Kossuth Elementary School for comment this evening. The school is in Corinth, the county seat of Alcorn County in northeast Mississippi. Kossuth Elementary students started school on Aug. 5.

Schools in Alcorn County have reported 48 positive COVID-19 cases among students and 11 among teachers and staff since the Corinth School District reopened schools on July 27.

Earlier today, the Alcorn School District announced that eight employees and 10 students had tested positive. In a statement, the district said that two students and an employee had tested positive at Kossuth High along with one employee at Kossuth Elementary.

The parent who shared the text expressed concern that Kossuth was not doing enough to enforce masks, and that they had seen kids without masks at the school on several occasions.

Gov. Tate Reeves’ mask order exempts children under 6 years of age, which includes many kindergarteners.

Yesterday, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs revealed that, by Friday, Aug. 21, about 900 Mississippi students and educators had tested positive for COVID-19 since schools reopened; schools have ordered about 8,000 others to quarantine.

Dobbs noted that Biloxi High School in Harrison County decided to suspend in-class instruction yesterday after outbreaks forced the school to quarantine 324 students—about one-fifth of the entire student population. Biloxi first resumed in-class instruction on Aug. 5.

Despite the high numbers of cases and quarantines, Gov. Reeves, who pushed for schools to reopen earlier this month against Dr. Thomas Dobbs’ recommendations, said all is going according to plan.

“These numbers that we are seeing in our schools are not unexpected,” the governor said. “I am pleased at the number of isolations we’re seeing, the number of quarantines we’re seeing, and I’m pleased that there are large numbers of Mississippi kids sitting in a classroom today and learning in a safe environment.” 

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