Mississippi health official: Delaying school opening could ‘make some sense’ in COVID-19 crisis

Mississippi’s top health officer said Friday that delaying the opening of state schools could make sense, but only if the state uses the time to get the COVID-19 coronavirus under better control by wearing masks and other precautions.

“There is some merit to delaying school,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Friday. “And certainly, there is a lot of conversation about that.

“The Mississippi AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has had a lot of conversations about maybe talking about delaying school because of the high number of cases,” Dobbs said.

Delaying would only make sense he said if the time was used wisely to slow the spread of COVID-19, he said.

“But if we’re going to do that, we have to couple that with a commitment to get the numbers down. because what I’m seeing right now is the numbers are not going to be better in September, they’re going to be worse,” Dobbs said. “They don’t have to be.”

“But delaying as appropriate and getting a little more time to make plans and also too to see where things are is a very valid approach and it’s something I think can make some sense,” he said. “I think there’s just more to come on that conversation.”

All Mississippi schools are supposed to submit their reopening plans to the state by July 31, just days before many schools are set to open in early Augst.

Districts across the state have announced a wide variety of reopening plans, with some districts offering distance learning as an option, some planning on full in-person attendance and others offering a mix of the two approaches.