October 23, 2020

Mississippi leaders say fall schools reopening, sports ‘a fluid situation’

Mississippi’s governor and top health care official suggested it’s too early to know definitively what will happen with state schools this fall as the COVID-19 coronavirus cases continue to grow across the state.

“This is a fluid situation,” Gov. Tate Reeves said during a Monday afternoon news conference. “Every day brings new information. Every day brings new data.

“I do think it’s important that we get our kids back in school. I believe it’s very important for everyone to understand that we can do it in a safe, responsible way, but we’re going to continue to monitor it.

“We’ve got to find a way to do it safely. We’ve got to be smart about it. We’ve got to be willing to be flexible, and make a decision today that we may have to tweak tomorrow. It’s just the nature of a pandemic.”

Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs seemed to agree that fall sports like football are likely to be canceled or at least look vastly different due to the virus.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation as it relates to fall sports,” Reeves said. “My priority is that kids are in school learning. I will tell you that large gatherings of thousands of people in the stands to watch high school sports is going to be problematic in the fall unless we see a dramatic decline in the growth rates in the number of cases we have in Mississippi.

“There’s just no other way to couch it other than that,” Reeves said. “We’re seeing rising cases and we have got to be smart about what we do going forward.”

“It’s very possible that particularly with fall sports they’re going to look a little bit different than they have in years past,” he said.

Dobbs said the biggest issue with school sporting events isn’t the players, but the fans.

“It’s a rapidly evolving situation,” Dobbs said. “Things are a lot worse now than they were a month ago. So the decisions that were being contemplated in June were very different than things we’re talking about now.

“Crowds of people, whenever you have crowds, you have high risk,” Dobbs said. “And I think that’s going to be the main thing.”