Sunflower County was named in one of Gov. Tate Reeves’ executive orders this week, but the statewide mask mandate and the delay of schools for a handful of counties will likely have little impact.
The county has been under a mask mandate since July, and the Sunflower County Consolidated School District had already announced last week plans to move education online for at least the first nine weeks to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Reeves announced that school will be delayed for grades 7-12 in Sunflower, Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola and Washington Counties.
Reeves did not make a decision on fall athletics.
“After listening to the executive order that was issued by Governor Reeves on yesterday, the Sunflower County Consolidated School District is confident that the decisions that we have made thus far have not only been in the best interest of our students, staff and communities, but are in alignment with what our government officials are seeing and recommending as well,” said SCCSD Superintendent Miskia Davis. “The Sunflower County Consolidated SchoolDistrict is committed to doing whatever it takes to safely navigate these treacherous times, even if it means scrapping a plan that we have worked months perfecting or implementing a plan that we've only had days to create. Whatever is in the best interest of our students and staff, we are willing to roll up our sleeves, and put in the work to get it done. Thankfully, we had already made the decision to push back our start date, so the order didn't negatively impact what we were implementing across the district, it only confirmed that we made the right decision.”
Reeves has been adamant about students, when at all possible, returning to the classroom this fall.
"Here’s the bottom line: we have to balance the very real risk of the virus and the lifelong damage of school closures. To do that, we have to safely provide education for the greatest possible number of children," said Reeves at Tuesday’s press briefing. "The best way to accomplish that is to provide guidelines, allow local school leaders to tailor them and step in with the authority of state government where it is absolutely necessary.”
Also ordered on Tuesday by the Mississippi State Department of Health, those who test positive for COVID-19 must remain in their homes.
A fine of $500 or up to six months imprisonment could follow the misdemeanor offense, MSDH said. In a life-threatening situation, failure or refusal to obey the order could result in a felony arrest and a fine up to $5,000 or imprisonment up to five years.