JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - According to the last school COVID-19 report by the Mississippi State Department of Health, 311 students in Jones County were quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure as of Aug. 25.
“Our numbers are larger than some of the joining counties, but our student enrollment is much larger with almost 9,000 students here,” Jones County School District Superintendent Tommy Parker said. “It’s more likely that we’ll have more cases.”
In addition to a high student enrollment, Parker says starting school the first week of August may be another reason why the county has more COVID-19 cases, exposures and quarantines.
“We started on August the 7th, so we’ve been in school a little bit longer than a lot of the school districts in the area,” Parker said. “When you look at the accumulative total, our number are somewhat larger than those around us.
MSDH also reports there were 33 teachers and staff members quarantined in the county due to exposure.
“We’ve been able, to this point, to cover all those classes with good, quality substitute teachers in those classrooms while those teachers are out,” Parker said.
Due to the number of cases in the county and the schools, the Jones County School Board has approved to extend the A/B schedule for students in grade levels 7 through 12. The schedule will continue through the end of September.
“Until those numbers improve by a good bit, we felt like we could just keep our students and our staff safer by following the A/B schedule and staying with it,” Parker said.
In August, the district had an outbreak with their Northeast High School football team. Those players and coaches are scheduled to return to classes and the field Tuesday, September 1.
“Because of the number of days that they have to practice before their first game, they’ll not be allowed to participate this coming Friday night like many of the teams in the area will be,” Parker said. “They will be allowed to participate on September 11, when Northeast will travel down to South Jones to play.
According to MSDH, since the start of school, Jones County has reported 20 positive cases among teachers and staff and 20 positive cases with students. The numbers reported include other school districts in the county.