South Tippah School District Superintendent Tony Elliott has tested positive for COVID-19, he confirmed to the Daily Journal on Monday evening.
Elliott said there are “no guarantees” that he caught the virus in a school setting, but he has followed district protocol and quarantined himself. He will continue to communicate with district staff while working from home.
He said that three other staff members have tested positive across the district’s seven campuses.
Elliott, who previously served as Director of the Tippah Career and Technology Center, took over as superintendent on July 1.
South Tippah’s students will return to school on Wednesday while following a hybrid schedule through Aug. 14 where girls and boys attend on alternating days. That first week and a half will be used to set routines, get students familiar with safety precautions, introduce the district’s new learning management system Canvas, distribute Chromebooks and establish student email addresses and passwords.
If a hybrid schedule is necessary any time after Aug. 17, students will not be divided by girl/boy, but siblings will attend on the same day if at all possible.
"In case we have to go distance learning, we want to be able to make the most out of it so we’ve got to get the kids in, get them their devices," Elliott said, adding that bringing students back at 50% capacity or less for the first few days will help improve safety.
Every child, teacher and staff member will have their temperature screened before entering a school building each day, according to Elliott.
"You develop policies and procedures hoping that you don’t have to use them, but you drill on them and practice on them for instances like this," Elliott said. "We knew from everything that we’re hearing that there was a strong likelihood that there could be positive cases within a school setting. We’re taking all of the precautions that we can take to do the best we can in that scenario."
He added that just like every other district in Mississippi, South Tippah's plans are fluid and are being evaluated on a daily basis.
"If South Tippah’s reopening plan changes, we will get that information out to the community as quickly as possible," Elliott said.