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State health officer recommends delaying school openings, calling it a ‘frightening experiment’



Dr. Thomas E Dobbs III
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas E Dobbs III (photo from MSDH)
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State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs is recommending schools delay reopening with in-person classes.

“We’re all kind of learning as we go through this, and it’s sort of like a really frightening experiment that we’re going through,” Dobbs said during an interview Friday with the Mississippi State Medical Association.

Dobbs mentioned the Corinth School District that was the first in the state to reopen. One student tested positive for COVID-19 last week, resulting in 14 people being quarantined. That student was not infected in the school, Dobbs said; however, Monday, another two students tested positive.

Dobbs expects cases to go up again after schools reopen.

“I was off,” he said. “I thought it was the correct time to open in August until a little while ago,” he said. “I do think it’s a good idea to put our toe in the water a little bit, trying to go slowly. Offer as much online as we can, you know, maybe delay in-person for a little while until September.”

Dobbs acknowledged that every COVID-19 message ends up being perceived as political.

“But I think it’s a good idea to delay school,” he said.

He also believes the MSDH will recommend a statewide school mask mandate.

Gov. Tate Reeves has been a strong advocate of schools reopening on time and in person, in alignment with President Donald Trump. Reeves said he would be reviewing school reopening plans, which were due from all Mississippi school districts July 31, and may be making recommendations later this week.

Dobbs has also reviewed the plans.

“A lot of them just say traditional school,” he said. “Believe it or not, ‘We’re just going back to school,’ which to me is wholly unacceptable. It’s crazy.”

In addition to recommending masks in schools, Dobbs recommends no more than 50% normal capacity in classrooms.

“It’s impossible to imagine that we are not going to pay the price for cramming kids into schools right now,” he said. “There’s just no plausible scenario where it’s just not going to be bad.”

Watch the entire interview.

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