Socially distanced classroom

DeSoto County Schools has seen fewer student cases of COVID-19 compared to other counties in the state.

Though the school district is the largest in the state with over 34,000 students, there have been fewer cases per student in the district, according to data from the Mississippi State Department of Health.

DeSoto County Schools has a student infection rate of about .01%, while other large school districts in the state have student infection rates much higher from the start of school to August 28, which was the newest data available at time of publication.

Jackson Public Schools has a student infection rate of .51%. Rankin County Schools has a rate of .14%, and Harrison County Schools has a rate of .57%.

This comes even as DeSoto County is seeing more cases per capita in its general population than other counties with large school districts.

“While students are on campus, our teachers, nurses, and students are working together to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.” Cory Uselton, the superintendent of the district, said in an email this week. “We have been very impressed by how students have adjusted to new procedures, and they are very respectful of other students' space.”

Uselton added that parents have been checking their children for symptoms before sending them to school each day.

Though schools have only been open for a few weeks, DCS has not seen a rapid increase in new cases each week.

Twenty-eight new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday by DeSoto County Schools. 19 students and nine faculty members tested positive between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4 across the largest school district in the state.

Following potential exposure to an infected person, 139 additional students were quarantined.

This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the district to 85, and the total number of those quarantined since the start of the school year to 421, according to data from the state.

There were fewer new cases this week than last week, when 34 new positive cases were reported. Far fewer students went into quarantine this week than last week as well, when 266 students were isolated because of potential exposure to the virus.

DeSoto County Schools is the largest district in the state of Mississippi with over 30,000 students. About 13,000 of those students chose to start the semester by attending classes virtually.

The numbers released by the district do not include private schools in the county or students who are quarantined by the Mississippi State Department of Health for situations unrelated to schools. Last week, Northpoint Christian School had one person in the building who tested positive for COVID-19, but that person was not a student or full-time staff member.

“Considering the size of our school district, our number of confirmed cases and quarantines has been relatively low,” Uselton said. “This is a testament to the cooperation between teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and students.”

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