Questions raised about inconsistencies with private schools and COVID-19 reporting

Private schools and COVID-19 reporting

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The order requiring all public and private schools to report COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health was issued on August 14th. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs made this note back in September.

“Many of the private schools are sending them directly to us," said Dobbs. "Many of them wanted to send it through the MAIS as their broker of information.”

MAIS, the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools, governs those schools. But it seems the association favors posting their own data that includes a total number of cases across all the schools rather than a school by school breakdown.

State Medical Association Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Jennifer Bryan says it shouldn’t be an issue to share with the health department.

“We’re just here kind of pleading that this is a reasonable request for us to understand where the disease is spiking," explained Dr. Bryan.

Bryan tweeted a letter that was shared with her that appears to be from the MAIS executive director.

In it, the association says it’s not encouraging member schools to report directly to MSDH because “of repercussions that have accrued to schools that have reported”.

“The goal is to keep our kids in school and educated than it just seems like working with the state health officer on what this doctor needs, makes the most sense," said Bryan.

Part of the position described in the email was that private schools don’t test for the virus and are receiving secondhand information. They also express concerns that the Department of Health is imposing the requirement on private schools but not equally across all private businesses.

When mandates regarding masks in schools were prompted, Dr. Thomas Dobbs said this.

“This is not just a public school thing," said Dobbs of mask requirements. "Private schools are going to have the same issues. They’re human beings too and need to wear masks also.”

WLBT reached out to MAIS for comment and requested an interview. Instead, the association released the following statement via its Twitter account Wednesday evening.

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