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Picayune Memorial High School has 49 students in quarantine

Picayune Memorial High School had the first COVID-19 outbreak in the Picayune School District, making it the second outbreak in the county.

The first outbreak occurred early in the school year at Pearl River Central High School.

An outbreak means that at least three positive cases have occurred in one classroom or group, like a sports team, within a two week period, said Director of Nursing for the Picayune School District Lynde Luckie.

When an outbreak occurs the group has to be quarantined. In this instance, one entire classroom was quarantined because at least three students in the class had positive COVID tests within a two week timeframe. Other students who were exposed to COVID-19 also had to be quarantined. A total of 49 students had to be quarantined in the week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 due to COVID-19 exposure, according to information released by the Mississippi Department of Health.

Luckie said that based on the contact tracing the district conducts and the classroom seating chart, it does not seem like the students who tested positive in the class spread COVID-19 to each other, but it is hard to know for sure because the district does not necessarily know what students do outside of school.

“I don’t think the fact they were in the same classroom together had an impact on the fact they tested positive.”

The high school had six new COVID-19 positive students for the week of Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 and no new positive cases in staff members. Since the start of the semester, 18 students and one to five staff or teachers have tested positive.

This outbreak will not result in a school-wide closure. School-wide closures occur when three or more outbreaks happen within two weeks, and the two week window for the outbreak ended Thursday night, said Luckie.

“We’re still doing really, really well. I know that there’s a lot of talk and a lot of rumors and a lot of speculation but we’re doing well,” she said.

The only other campus in the district with new COVID-19 positive students or staff was Nicholson Early Head Start where one to five students tested positive. Case numbers between one to five are suppressed by the Mississippi State Department of Health to protect personal identity.

For the week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, in the Poplarville School District one campus reported new cases. The Middle School of Poplarville had one to five new staff and teacher cases and one to five new student cases.

In the Pearl River Central School District, two campuses reported new cases. The Pearl River Central High School had one to five new students test positive. The Pearl River Central Middle School also had one to five new students test positive.

None of the 18 other schools throughout the county that report to the Mississippi State Department of Health had new COVID-19 positive students or staff the week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. There were still students and staff members quarantining at schools in the county without new positive tests.