Woodward: Kids should ‘definitely’ return to school this fall - with masks

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at...
Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical School. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 4:11 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center says that children should be in classrooms come this fall, but that they should also be masked while doing so.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward made the comments Wednesday during a press conference explaining how UMMC has updated its COVID-19 response after several outbreaks among staff and a surge of new patients.

Woodward was asked what her position was regarding students returning to school during the latest Delta spike.

“I don’t want to speak for everybody, but I know I can speak for all of us here. We definitely think that kids need to be in school,” Woodward stated. “For all the reasons. The education reasons, the social reasons. Everything. The kids need to be in school.”

She went on to say that the medical community wants kids to return to school “in the safest way possible,” and until the point in which every eligible person is vaccinated “the best way for it to be safe is for [students] to wear a mask.”

Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, added to this, saying the they know for a scientific fact that masks work.

“The reason that we’ve gone back to saying masks is because the effectiveness of the vaccine against Delta for preventing infection is a little bit lower, so we need a little bit of a push to put us back to where we need to be to decrease the amount of spread,” Jones explained.

He then said that the mask coupled with the vaccine will “help calm things down more.” He said that this was neither a political statement or an opinion: “That is scientific fact.”

Gov. Tate Reeves has publicly stated that he has “no intention” of requiring masks this academic school year, saying at the Neshoba County Fair, “I don’t think that’s going to be forthcoming from our administration.”

This as two Lamar County high schools recently moved to virtual learning due to COVID outbreaks on both campuses. Some Mississippi school districts, including Vicksburg Warren, have also “strongly recommended” that their students and teachers wear masks.

Mississippi State University also announced Wednesday that it will require students to wear masks indoors to begin the 2021 fall semester.

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