Tupelo • Sixty-four students and 18 teachers tested positive for COVID-19 in the Lee County School District between Aug. 6 and Sept. 18, according to data provided to the Daily Journal by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Following a public records request, MSDH provided the Daily Journal with self-reported COVID-19 case and quarantine data for students and teachers/staff members for each school in the district.

LCSD has released very little COVID-19 case information publicly, citing that the Mississippi Department of Education does not require it. But the district has reported positive cases and quarantine information to MSDH and routinely sends letters home to notify parents when their students may have been exposed.

The data provided to the Journal includes week-by-week information on positive cases and quarantines among students, faculty and staff beginning Aug. 17, which is when MSDH began releasing weekly reports of aggregate data collected from Mississippi schools.

Between the week of Sept. 8 and Sept. 14, the most recently reported weeks in the data the Journal received, the number of positive cases and quarantines among students increased slightly.

The week of Sept. 8-11, there were eight positive cases among students and one positive teacher/staff member. There were 65 students and three staff members quarantined.

The following week, Sept. 14-18, there were nine positive cases among students and three positive teachers/staff members. The number of quarantines also increased, with 70 students and eight staff members quarantined.

There has only been one COVID-19 outbreak at a Lee County school since in-person instruction resumed, which occurred at Saltillo High School between Aug. 17-21 when the school reported five students and two teachers/staff tested positive with 95 students quarantined as a result that week.

According to reopening guidelines released by MSDH in July, an outbreak is defined as three or more cases of COVID-19 in a classroom or group within 14 days, which “may not indicate ongoing transmission, but the risk of exposure and transmission to the group or classroom is increased.”

MSDH hasn’t published COVID-19 data by school or district, but does list totals by county. LCSD’s COVID-19 numbers are not unlike those the Tupelo Public School District, which publicly reports coronavirus data weekly, has seen so far.

During the five weeks between Aug. 17 through Sept. 18, TPSD reported 57 student COVID-19 cases and LCSD reported 54. TPSD reported 24 teacher/staff cases while LCSD reported 15.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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