October 23, 2020

Decision on opening schools will be ‘tough decision,’ Mississippi health leader says

Mississippi’s top health officer said Wednesday that decisions on opening the state’s schools will be “tough” because more infections will come as schools reopen.

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs was asked at a news conference if Mississippi parents could be assured that it is safe to send their children to schools as Mississippi has spiraling coronavirus infections.

“That’s a really tough question because I think we all need to be very clear that if we delay school opening for a couple of weeks, it doesn’t mean in a month that things are going to be better,” he said. “It’s probably going to be bad for a long time.

“From just a pure infection control perspective, it makes perfect sense not to open schools at all. Because there will be more cases of coronavirus when we open schools. But schools are important.”

Dobbs said he and others in the state have been in constant discussions with education leaders.

“It’s going to be a tough decision, and I am not sure that I have the best answer, personally,” he said. “If we’re going to prioritize educating our kids, then we need to do that in the safest way possible.”

Dobbs said school districts will need to be nimble and adjust quickly if things change and that things will be different this year.

“I don’t think we can have football stadiums full of people safely. That’s just not a safe thing to do,” he said.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said all Mississippians must realize that we’re all in this together.

“We can’t allow those facilities to pretend as if the virus doesn’t exist,” he said. “Everyone needs to be bought into the safety measures.”