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Picayune School District COVID-19 cases

Contact tracing and seating charts have been key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the Picayune School District.

Director of Nursing Lynde Luckie said that a month into the semester, a small percentage of the students and staff have had positive COVID-19 cases that affected a campus. Cases that are considered to affect a campus are cases where a student or employee was on campus when they had COVID-19.

Of the district employees, five employees, or 0.007 percent of district employees, have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 6. Of the approximately 3,000 students in the district, 12 students, or 0.004 percent of the student population, have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the semester.

None of the COVID-19 positive cases have been contracted at school, she said, and the district has not had any outbreaks.

“We have contact tracing in place. We’ve had it in place before students ever came back into school,” said Luckie.

Classrooms and buses have assigned seating, so if there is a positive case, Luckie can pull the seating chart and determine who was in close contact with the person and needs to quarantine.

“We put those plans in place to make sure that an entire classroom would not have to quarantine,” she said.

An entire classroom has not had to quarantine yet, she said. None of the students and staff who have had to quarantine due to close contact with someone who was positive for COVID-19 have become ill or tested positive, said Luckie.

In total, 0.07 percent of students and staff have had to quarantine since the start of the semester, said Luckie. The percentage that have had to quarantine is much higher than the percentage of positive cases, because one positive case can cause more than one person to need to quarantine. Between Aug. 6 and Sept. 10 approximately 248 students and staff members have had to quarantine. Not all of those people were out of school at the same time. The number of people out of school on any given day due to quarantines fluctuates, as groups are able to return and new groups are required to stay home, said Luckie.

Wearing masks and practicing hand hygiene with all age groups have been effective prevention measures, she said.

“I’m pleased with how the children are cooperating. I’m pleased with how the parents are cooperating with making sure the children are healthy when they come to school and our nurses are doing a good job at each campus taking care of all the children and the staff.”

Superintendent Dean Shaw said that students, staff and parents are doing a good job of helping control the spread of the virus.

“It’s been a great team effort from everyone that’s involved in this matter to help keep our students in school because everyone realizes the importance of our students being in school and everyone’s playing their part in helping with this,” said Shaw.

A small group of students are doing virtual learning, approximately 30 across the district, said Shaw.

Luckie reports the number of COVID-19 cases in the district to the Mississippi State Department of Health each Monday. MSDH releases a report that offers data about COVID-19 in schools broken down by county, but does not release school district specific data.

Since the start of the school year, there has only been one COVID-19 outbreak in a school in Pearl River County, according to the Sept. 9 MSDH report. There have been 31 students and 15 teachers/staff members countywide who have tested positive for COVID-19 since school started.

For the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 4, there were seven new teacher or staff cases and eight new student cases countywide, according to the MSDH report.