• 48°

Picayune School District reports second outbreak

More than 90 Picayune Memorial High School students were quarantined when the school had its second COVID-19 outbreak of the semester in early October, but currently only 12 students are quarantined district wide.

From the week of Oct. 5 to Oct. 9, Picayune Memorial High School reported its second COVID-19 outbreak of the semester and placed 93 students on quarantine, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health Aggregate School COVID-19 report for that week.

An outbreak means that at least three positive cases occurred in one classroom or group within a two week period. That entire group of students is quarantined. When three outbreaks occur within a two-week timeframe, a school is temporarily closed. The timeframe for the second outbreak has already ended, so will not lead to a school-wide closure, said Assistant Superintendent Walt Esslinger.

There were 1-5 new student cases and 1-5 new staff cases that week. MSDH suppresses case numbers between 1-5 to protect personal identity. Out of 858 students at the high school, MSDH reports a total of 20 COVID-19 positive students since the start of the semester. Based on the data collected, district administrators believe that transmission is not happening within the high school, but coming from the community into the school, said Esslinger.

Esslinger said that only 12 students and less than three staff members throughout the school district are being quarantined as of Tuesday.

In all three school districts, Picayune, Poplarville and Pearl River County, the high schools have reported more COVID-19 positive students since the start of the semester than other schools within their respective districts.

As of the week of Oct. 5 to Oct. 9, Poplarville High School had eight COVID-19 positive students and 1-5 teachers or staff members test positive since the start of the semester. Pearl River Central High School has had one outbreak, 16 COVID-19 positive students and 1-5 COVID-19 positive teachers or staff members since the start of the semester.

Pearl River Central High School reported 1-5 new positive students and 1-5 new positive staff members during that week, with 11 students quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. Poplarville High School reported zero new positives that week.

For the week of Oct. 5 to Oct. 9, the Picayune Junior High School reported 1-5 new student cases and quarantined 18 students. The Pearl River Central Elementary reported 1-5 new teacher or staff cases and 12 students were quarantined.

No other schools in the county reported new cases that week.

The majority of school campuses in the county have had zero or between 1-5 teachers or staff members test positive for COVID-19 since the start of the semester.

The only two exceptions are the Middle School of Poplarville where six staff members have tested positive since the school year began and the Pearl River Central Middle School where seven staff members have tested positive.