COVID-19 Delta surge coinciding with start of school means change of plans for some

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:36 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The latest COVID-19 surge isn’t showing any signs of slowing. And it’s ramping up faster than what we’ve seen with previous surges throughout the pandemic. That’s coinciding with back to school.

Click HERE to see the chart that shows the 7 day average and how quickly the COVID outlook switched gears when the Delta variant became the predominant strain.

On June 1, the seven day average was 121 cases. A month later, at the start of July, 193 cases. As it stands August 2, the seven day average is 1,673.

“It’s probably about the toughest time we could think of to be starting school back in the midst of the massive upswing in the Delta wave,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs Friday.

And the impacts are already being felt. Two Lamar County schools are switching to virtual after just a week of school because of outbreaks. Oxford is one district reversing course, partly because of that example.

“I am exercising my authority provided by the board and requiring masks for all students and staff beginning Monday, August 2 through Friday, August 20,” Bradley Roberson, Superintendent of the Oxford School District, said in a video message posted to the district website.

Pediatrician Dr. John Gaudet says it makes sense.

“What goes on in the schools will be reflective of what is going on in the communities,” described Gaudet.

Gaudet says he’s been seeing more kids in his office testing positive for COVID which wasn’t as common earlier in the pandemic.

“Delta is a double whammy, because not only are cases in the community increasing,” noted Gaudet. “But I think you’re beginning to see with the higher contagiousness of Delta, you’re beginning to see more cases or a higher likelihood, where an asymptomatic child can transmit COVID to an adult or to another child.”

We met first year teacher Elisha Johnson who says she’s trying to stay positive.

“But I don’t watch the numbers every day because I don’t want to create more anxiety for myself,” admitted Johnson.

Her district’s mask mandate is helping calm some of her fears.

“Because I know that the younger kids… I’m gonna be teaching first grade and they can’t get the vaccine,” she said. “So, for me, as well as them, I feel a little bit safer with them wearing masks and me as well.”

Gaudet stresses that for students 12 and older... they should be vaccinated.

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