State Health Officer: ‘I think it’s a good idea to delay school’

“The truth is there’s a lot of CoViD out there and it’s killing people, and it's going to kill...
“The truth is there’s a lot of CoViD out there and it’s killing people, and it's going to kill people,” said Dobbs.(WLBT)
Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 2:45 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says he believes school should not reopen this month.

Dobbs spoke about the possibility of reopening schools in a Facebook Live discussion Friday.

We are back with our weekly COVID-19 update conversation with State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH. If you have any questions, please comment them below and we will get to as many as time permits.

Posted by Mississippi State Medical Association on Friday, July 31, 2020

He says his opinion has changed from before when he thought it would be OK to open in August. With newer data, he says it’s risky.

Dobbs says its’s a good idea to “dip the toes in the water,” with delaying in-person learning until at least September and offering virtual learning until then.

“I think it’s a good idea to delay school,” he said. “There’s nothing special about August.”

Dobbs and Dr. Paul Byers say some schools will use a threshold of 5% positive testing to decide when to close down in-person learning, but Dobbs wondered if that was too high.

“I think that threshold should be significantly lower than that, but it should also be more nuanced,” he said.

Dobbs also said they will require every student learning in person to wear a mask.

He said he’s spoken to the superintendent of Corinth School District, which had a positive test in its first week back, on how things are running there.

The American Federation of Teachers-Mississippi is also calling for a delay to in-person teaching and learning.

In an open letter sent to Gov. Reeves Monday, the AFT said that not all schools are equipped to protect students and teachers and that “each school district is different, but financially and structurally.”

They also pointed to the fact that 37 counties in the state are currently under a mask mandate, adding, “Sir, that is almost half of the counties in the state.”

“We realize the possible hardships on families who work outside the home, but that cannot compare to the loss of a child to COVID-19 because he/she came to school,” the letter reads. “That includes teachers, or even family members being affected as well.”

The AFT states that teachers have always been able to take students where they are and move them to where they need to be. “That is our job,” they write. “A delay to in-person learning will not handicap students to the point that they cannot recover.”

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