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Over 100 people quarantined in Mississippi school district after several test positive for coronavirus

Six students and one staff member in the 2,700-student district have tested positive for the virus since school began July 27.
Students at Corinth High School follow the directional signage posted on the floor as the school reopened on July 27, 2020 in Corinth, Miss.Adam Robison / The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP file

At least 116 people in a Mississippi school district have been instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days after six students and one staff member tested positive for the coronavirus less than two weeks after the start of school.

Of the seven people who have tested positive since classes resumed July 27 in Corinth, a city in the state's northeast corner, five are high school students, one attends middle school, and the other is a staff member at an elementary school, according to Taylor Coombs, spokeswoman for the Corinth School District.

At least 116 people who are considered to have been in close contact with one of those seven have been instructed to quarantine for 14 days, Coombs said Thursday. She said she could not disclose how many of the 116 are students or staff because of privacy laws.

"We believe that most of these earlier cases are the result of community transmission, which further highlights the need for all community members to adopt and practice recommended safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus," Superintendent Lee Childress said in a statement.

"Schools will only be as safe as the community in which they operate," the superintendent said.

The district spokeswoman said nurses and others have been "working diligently to ensure the safety" of staff and students through routine screenings and new building procedures. "Contact tracing and seating charts have been vital to our quarantine process," Coombs said.

She also said that all students and staff in the the district, which has an enrollment of 2,700, were wearing masks even before the state's governor announced Tuesday that he would require all children and adults in schools to wear face coverings.

Gov. Tate Reeves said at a news conference that his executive order requiring face masks will also apply to public gatherings and when people go shopping.

"Our office has been flooded with calls from teachers who are not ready to return to work," Reeves said. "Those come right alongside calls from countless single moms sobbing into the telephone about to lose their ability to provide for their child if they cannot get them back in school."

"None of this is simple," the governor added.

The Corinth schools spokeswoman said quarantined students receive remote instruction, which was an option offered to all parents when school started.

"The virtual model runs parallel to in-person traditional instruction," she said.