Mississippi educators call for mask mandates in schools

MISSISSIPPI — The CDC and Mississippi Association of Educators are calling for staff and students to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

DeSoto County Schools and the Corinth School District are keeping masks optional, while Shelby County Schools is the only district in the Mid-South requiring them.

RELATED: CDC recommends masks be worn in schools regardless of vaccination status

Corinth School District Superintendent Lee Childress plans on discussing the new CDC guidelines at the next school board meeting while DeSoto County Schools plans on keeping masks optional because there is no mandate in place.

“We are yet again facing surging COVID numbers and there is no comprehensive statewide plans to protect those students or their families,” said Erica Jones with the Mississippi Association of Educators.

The MAE President is calling for a state-wide mask mandate in schools.

This coincides with the CDC’s new guidance to mask up even if staff and students are fully vaccinated.

“We deserve and our students deserve to teach and learn in a safe setting without fearing for our health or the health of our families,” said Jones.

Right now, Mississippi’s DeSoto County Schools and the Corinth School District are making masks optional.

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A spokesperson with DeSoto County Schools said there is no virtual option this school year.

Parents have mixed reactions.

“I think it’s everyone’s choice. I’m not as concerned with the kids I guess,” said parent Ashley Sykes.

“I suggest that mine wear them, my grandkids, but can’t make them,” said Sharon Wright.

FOX13 compared data from the Mississippi Department of Health at the end of the school year in June to July 27.

It shows an increase in the seven-day average of cases in DeSoto County from 12 to 43 and an increase in state-wide hospitalizations from 152 to 653.

Meanwhile, the MAE plans on pushing the governor to make masks mandatory as the Delta variant causes a spike in cases.

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“We don’t know the extent to which this new strain could affect unvaccinated students but we do know that one critically ill student is one too many,” said Jones.

FOX13 reached out to Governor Tate Reeves’ office. A spokesperson said there is no plan to require students and staff to wear masks during the school year.

An MSDH spokesperson said it’s aware of the CDC guidelines and will discuss more updates during its news conference on Wednesday.