A switch to online learning and prolonged closures because of Hurricane Ida have led to significantly lower COVID-19 cases in area schools, according to data released by the Mississippi State Department of Health on Tuesday.
The week of Aug. 16-20 was the last noticeable uptick in virus cases in local schools. During that week, 12 schools reported new cases. North Pike High School and Denman Junior High both reported more than a dozen at the time.
The following week, ending the Friday before Ida hit, Osyka Elementary was the only Pike County school to report infection data.
For the past two weeks, no Pike County school has reported more than five new cases among students or employees, and some reported having none at all.
Schools reporting new infections last week included Otken Elementary, Summit Elementary, Higgins Middle School, Denman Junior High, McComb High School, Eva Gordon Elementary, Osyka Elementary and all of North Pike’s campuses. The data did not specify whether the new cases were at Eva Gordon lower or upper elementary.
In Walthall County, Dexter Attendance Center and Tylertown Primary school along with all Amite County schools reported up to five cases last week.
For the past week, the only schools to report staff infections were North Pike Elementary School, North Pike Upper Elementary School, North Pike Middle School and South Pike High School. Amite County schools reported no employee infections and Dexter Attendance Center in Walthall County reported no more than five.
All local schools reported having students in quarantine last week, Kennedy Early Childhood Center and Otken both had four, Summit had five, Higgins had two, Denman had seven, McComb High had 17, Eva Gordon had six, Osyka had two, South Pike High had four, North Pike Elementary had three, North Pike Upper Elementary had two, North Pike Middle School had four and North Pike High School had three.
This comes as local schools switched to hybrid and virtual learning for two weeks following an uptick in cases, then shut down after Hurricane Ida caused power outages.
At the height of quarantines in the relatively new school year, McComb High School had 126 students out for the week of Aug. 16-20. North Pike Middle School had 96 and South Pike High School had 56.
In Walthall County, Dexter Attendance Center reported two students, Tylertown Primary School reported eight students and Tylertown High School had 33.
Amite County had 12 students in quarantine at Amite County Elementary School and four at Amite County High School.
There are significantly fewer teachers and other employees in quarantine at local schools, the only schools to report employee quarantines are Eva Gordon Elementary, Otken Elementary and Summit Elementary all having one employee out. All North Pike schools had employees out sick. North Pike Elementary, middle school and high school all had three each and the upper elementary had one.
Amite County reported no employees in quarantine. Only one teacher was in quarantine in Walthall County at Dexter Attendance Center.
Private schools continued to report no data to the state.