COVID-19 hits Rankin County family hard after just one week in school

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 10:40 PM CDT
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RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - After just one week of being in school, one Rankin County mother said all three of her kids are out sick with COVID-19.

The Rankin County School District welcomed kids back into the classroom on Friday, August 6, and by Monday, August 9, the district sent out a letter to parents, saying: “The number of positive cases and quarantines of students and employees has become a concern after just two days of school opening.”

During the district’s first week back to school, 210 students tested positive for the virus and 656 were sent home to quarantine.

Three of those positive cases and quarantines are the children of Rankin County mother Jessica Howell.

“I’m a single parent. This has been pretty hard,” said Howell. Her kids attend Richland upper and lower elementary schools.

“Any parent can tell you having three kids sick no matter what they’re sick with... even one kid sick, it’s going to be hard,” Howell said.

The district began school with a mask recommendation but quickly switched to a mask requirement starting on students’ third day back. Howell sent her kids to school with masks but said there’s no telling if they actually wore them all day.

She said that could partially be what contributed to them getting sick.

“Younger children are not going to leave their mask up all day unless someone’s kind of telling them to,” she said. “They see other children with no mask on, and they’re going to think, ‘Okay, I don’t have to wear it. It’s not a big deal.’”

The virus isn’t just making its way through those inside the schools, it’s also infecting those on the outside. Howell’s mother recently tested positive as well.

“She’s actually lost sense of smell and taste and so far is only getting worse instead of getting better,” she said. “She’s kind of our main concern right now.”

The district plans to reevaluate its masking guidelines on August 25 to decide whether it can go back to recommending masks.

Howell said she expects things within the district to continue getting worse because people aren’t taking the virus seriously anymore.

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