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Pearl River Central Middle School reports two outbreaks of COVID-19 in October

The Pearl River County School District had two COVID-19 outbreaks at the middle school campus and one among district support staff in the month of October.

An outbreak means that at least three positive cases occurred in one classroom or group within a two week period. When that occurs, the entire group is quarantined. When three outbreaks occur within a two-week timeframe at one school, the school is temporarily closed. All of the outbreaks in the Pearl River County School District have cleared, said Superintendent Alan Lumpkin, so will not result in any school closures.

“All of our outbreak cohorts have completed 14 day quarantine,” he said.

The week of Oct. 12-16, Pearl River Central Middle School reported its first outbreak, according to Aggregate School COVID-19 Reports from the Mississippi State Department of Health. There were 15 students quarantined that week. The week of Oct. 19-23, the middle school reported its second outbreak; 53 students and seven teachers or staff members were quarantined.

As of the week of Oct. 26-30, the Pearl River Central Middle School reported no new COVID-19 cases, two teachers or staff members were quarantined and 32 students were quarantined. The school has had 10 students and seven teachers or staff members test positive for COVID since the start of the semester.

An outbreak was also reported the week of Oct. 19-23 among district support staff, which can include cafeteria workers and maintenance workers, said Lumpkin. There were 19 staff members quarantined the week of Oct. 19-23 due to the support staff outbreak. As of the week of Oct. 26-30, 1-5 new cases were reported, 18 support staff members were quarantined and 12 support staff members have tested positive since the start of the semester.

“Our contact tracing is showing that the majority of the cases are contracted outside the school district,” said Lumpkin.

Typically positive cases are being reported to the district by parents, and usually those cases are associated with a positive case already in that student’s household, Lumpkin said.

The district has tried to manage the spread of COVID-19 by emphasizing preventing sick students or staff members from ever coming onto a school campus, said Lumpkin.

“We put a lot of our emphasis on prevention and keeping our sick students at home with temperature checks, screenings on campus and in morning times, temperatures taken on buses.”

Lumpkin said he understands the fatigue many may feel with COVID-19 prevention measures, but the community needs to stay on guard with preventing the spread of COVID-19 as fall wraps up and winter comes.

“Cases are increasing and we don’t need to slack off on preventive measures, social distancing and mask wearing. We just need to stay diligent in what we’re doing, so we can keep our cases down and keep our schools open,” he said.

The state of Mississippi has reported 124,854 COVID-19 cases, resulting in 3,419 deaths. Pearl River County has had 1,255 cases, resulting in 62 deaths. One new death was reported in the county on Nov. 4.

New Cases in Schools

The week of Oct. 26-30, Pearl River Central Elementary reported 1-5 new staff cases, 17 students and four teachers or staff members were quarantined. Since the start of the semester, six teachers and nine students have tested positive.

Pearl River Central High School had 1-5 new student cases, two teachers or staff and 15 students were quarantined. Since the semester began, 1-5 teachers or staff and 20 students have tested positive.

Poplarville

The week of Oct. 26-30, the Middle School of Poplarville reported 1-5 new students cases and nine students were quarantined. Total, the school has had six positive teachers or staff and 1-5 COVID-19 positive students.

Poplarville High School reported 1-5 new student cases and two students were quarantined. Since the semester began, there have been 1-5 positive teachers or staff and nine COVID positive students.

Picayune

The Picayune School District reported no new COVID-19 cases the week of Oct. 26-30. Since the start of the semester, Picayune Memorial High School has had 21 COVID positive students and 1-5 positive staff or teachers. There were 10 high school students quarantined the week of Oct. 26-30. All of the district’s other campuses have had either zero or 1-5 cases since the start of the semester.