November 24, 2020

Reeves hints school reopening order coming Tuesday may not use blanket approach

As Mississippi health officials and hospital leaders called for the state to delay further reopening of schools, the one man who can mandate such a delay said he’ll make an announcement on Tuesday.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he has read nearly 600 pages of school reopening plans from districts across the state and will make an announcement about an executive order regarding schools on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re still finalizing the plans, but here’s how I’m thinking about them: we have to balance the very real risk of more community spread and the devastating life impact of extended school closures,” Reeves wrote.

The governor seemed to indicate that his decision may not be a blanket one, but may model his county-by-county mandates for face mask requirements in public when social distancing cannot be maintained.

“We need to think of youngest kids as different than older kids,” Reeves wrote on social media Monday night. “They are much less likely to spread the virus and far more likely to suffer from school closures.

‪”We also need to recognize that not every district can be treated the same. They all have different staff, resource(s), and population considerations,” he wrote. “Local school districts are still the best-equipped entities to manage the details of local school decisions.”

Reeves has been criticized by residents and a number of health care leaders for his targeted approach to coronavirus restrictions. Rather than a statewide face mask mandate, for example, he selectively issued mandates for the counties with the highest spread.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Friday that schools need to wait until at least September before opening, citing recent surges in cases.

The state’s chapter of the American Pediatrics Association also publicly endorsed delaying opening as did the leader of the state’s largest hospital system, the University of Mississippi Medical Center.