August 12, 2020 10:20:24 AM
Slim Smith - [email protected]
A student and teacher in Columbus Municipal School District have tested positive for COVID-19 while 11 others have been asked to self-isolate, Superintendent Cherie Labat confirmed Tuesday morning.
The first mention of possible COVID-19 cases came after a Sunday evening post on social media, but Labat did not confirm the report until two days later. CMSD started classes Thursday.
"One teacher and one student tested positive and 10 students and one teacher have been asked to self-isolate," Labat said via text Tuesday after consulting with Mississippi State Department of Health and the school board attorney.
Labat also confirmed that parents whose children attend the affected school or schools were notified as outlined in the district's reopening policy.
Classes in the district started last week with about 60 percent of students participating in its hybrid format under which students attend in-person classes two days a week and otherwise learn virtually. The other 40 percent are enrolled in the district's virtual-only format.
CMSD's policy for handling outbreaks is based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health department guidelines, Labat said. In those guidelines, an outbreak could lead to school closing.
"An outbreak would be done by class setting," Labat said. "In application, you would have to have three positive cases in every classroom to close a school."
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Tuesday that 27 schools have reported cases since the first districts began classes July 27. Forty-two cases -- 25 students and 17 employees -- have been reported.
According to the MSDH, there have been 5,027 cases of COVID-19 among children ages 6-17 in the state.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]