Mississippi school children should be wearing masks next week as classes resume, health leader says

Published 3:01 pm Wednesday, December 29, 2021

As parents, teachers and staff prepare for the return of school next week after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, state health officials say the rapidly surging omicron variant is going to make a return to in-person school “tricky,” especially if they aren’t wearing masks.

With more than 10,000 new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus found in the last seven days, Mississippi’s health officials strongly urge teachers, staff and students to wear face masks in schools, requirements that most school districts across the state removed when case numbers plummeted after the delta variant wave.

“Masks do work in preventing transmission,” Mississippi State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said. “Continue to wear a mask in that indoor setting in the school, really regardless of vaccination status.”

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Byers said with the high level of community spread of the virus, outbreaks in schools seem likely.

“It’s going to be really tricky, I think, coming back,” Byers said. “Let’s be smart and wear that mask when you can.”

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said although he did not anticipate the state would issue a mask mandate, he said wearing masks are important to stopping the spread of the virus, particularly the omicron variant that spreads more rapidly than previous variations of COVID-19.