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Sumrall High Orders All 600 Students to Quarantine Amid Mississippi COVID-19 Outbreaks

Around 600 students at Sumrall High School are quarantined after multiple outbreaks hit the school. Sumrall is a small town in Lamar County with a population of about 1,800 residents. Photo by Ashton Pittman.

One Lamar County, Miss., high school ordered its entire student body of about 600 to quarantine at home for two weeks starting today amid a series of outbreaks. The Lamar County School District alerted parents late yesterday that all Sumrall High School students would have to begin quarantining immediately starting this morning. 

“This week we have dealt with positive COVID cases in the Sumrall community that have been traced to events and activities outside the school setting. At this time, Sumrall High School has reached the (Mississippi State Department of Health) conditions to consider the dismissal of school,” Lamar County Superintendent Steven Hampton said in the message yesterday.

Sumrall is a small town with a population of about 1,800 residents.

In his message to parents, Hampton noted that students would continue learning online for the next two weeks until in-person classes resume on Oct. 29. All extracurricular activities are suspended.

Today, the Mississippi State Department of health published its weekly report on COVID-19 cases in schools across the state, revealing that schools recorded more cases during the week of Oct. 5 through Oct. 9 than any other week since schools began reopening in the last week of July and throughout August.

Schools reported 343 new COVID-19 cases among students last week and 185 among teachers, bringing the total number of confirmed cases as of last Friday to 2,452 among students and 1,181 among teachers and staff members. 

Mississippi schools also quarantined a record 7,684 students, teachers and staff for possible COVID-19 exposures last week, bringing the total number of quarantines since the start of school to more than 50,000.

By last Friday, though, MSDH data show that only between one and five Sumrall High School students had tested positive for COVID-19, with 26 students quarantined. The data do not include case or quarantine numbers for Oct. 10 through today, though.

Today’s COVID-19 report from the Mississippi State Department of Health marked the most cases reported in a single day since the summer wave peaked on July 30. MSDH reported 1,322 new cases today, marking the first time the state has crossed the threshold of 1,000 cases since Aug. 3.

On Aug. 4, Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statewide mask mandate, requiring all Mississippians to wear face coverings in public. In the weeks after, the number of daily new cases steadily declined, even as freshly reopened schools experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. 

On Sept. 30, Gov. Reeves allowed the mask mandate to expire, saying he would trust Mississippians to continue wearing masks without government coercion. Since then, many Mississippians have stopped wearing masks in public, and the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has steadily trended upward.

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