DeSoto County parents push for masks, virtual learning as COVID cases climb

DeSoto County, Miss. — A Desoto County parent whose nine-year-old son contracted COVID at the start of the school year is demanding state leaders mandate virtual learning and masks in Mississippi schools.

In the meantime, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said his top priority is to keep kids in the classroom.

At least two schools are going virtual temporarily;  Hernando High School and Lewisburg Middle School.

One parent said this is the reason state leaders need to force schools to mandate virtual learning.

“I let him return into the classroom and he ended up getting COVID after the first week of school,” said Pam Harlan McSwain; a parent.

McSwain’s nine-year-old son just returned to Desoto Elementary School last Wednesday with the mask and plexiglass McSwain said she ordered in the mail.

“I’m very concerned and I don’t want him to bring it home for me even though me and my husband, we’re fully vaccinated but now we’re seeing more and more breakthrough cases and it’s scary.”

In DeSoto County Schools, masks are recommended but not required.  When the school year started, virtual learning was not an option for kids like McSwain’s son; a 4th grader at Desoto Elementary.

McSwain is worried now that two schools in the district moved to virtual learning temporarily.

“This should not be something for politicians to be voicing their whole-hearted opinion and taking it personal, it’s more about the health and safety of the entire community and not personal opinions.”

FOX13 asked Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves’ administration Wednesday, will Reeves pressure lawmakers to require schools to go back to virtual learning or mask mandates considering the recent spike in cases?

Governor Reeves continued to say he has no intention of implementing statewide masks mandates or restrictions.

“Our governor wants to say that if you do not follow the quarantine for the 10 days that you could possibly face jail time but what about the masks, what about stopping it before it gets to that point.”

McSwain said her neighbor’s child is out of school with covid right now. Governor Reeves went on to say “virtual learning is inferior to in-person instruction.”

FOX13 asked school district leaders in DeSoto County what’s the district’s threshold on closing schools and going virtual temporarily?

The district released this statement.

“Several factors could be involved when decisions are made about virtual learning. These could include the number of positive cases, clusters of cases, teacher availability, recommendations from the Mississippi State Department of Health, and feedback from the building principal. Every situation is unique,” said Lauren Margeson; a spokeswoman for DeSoto County Schools.