By Alyssa Schnugg
While cases of COVID-19 rose in Lafayette County in the last week, local schools are reporting fewer cases.
As of today, Lafayette County gained 174 new cases in the last seven days.
The Mississippi State Department of Health is back at the Oxford Conference Center daily giving free tests and there have been several pop-up testing sites around Oxford in the last two weeks.
At the Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi Monday there were 57 patients with COVID-19 with 11 in ICU.
The number of new cases reported by the Oxford School District has also declined in the last week.
From Aug. 30-Sept. 5, the district saw 25 new cases reported. From Sept. 6-12, there were 20 new cases reported – 19 students and one teacher.
There are 81 students in quarantine due to contact tracing.
The OSD Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 11 a.m. on Tuesday via Zoom where the board will discuss the district’s Return to Learn policy. It was not known Monday evening whether that will include extending or ending the current mask mandate in place.
On Monday, New Albany and Union County school districts announced they would be ending their mask mandates as of Friday, Sept. 17.
Lafayette County School District no longer reports new cases on its website, but rather those figures are reported by the MSDH on its website and are about a week or so behind. If a school has one to five cases, MSDH reports new cases as 1-5 to protect the identity of those who are positive.
As of Aug. 8, Lafayette reported 21-28 cases among students and two to five cases among teachers.
Lafayette County School District does not have an across-the-board mask mandate but rather the district reviews case data on a weekly basis and informs parents on Fridays whether a school in the district will have a mask mandate for the coming week. This week, Lafayette’s upper and lower elementary schools are requiring masks while the middle and high schools are not.
Cases at the University of Mississippi have also declined this past week. Over the past seven days, there have been 66 new confirmed cases, compared to the week before when there were 98 new cases.
The city of Oxford currently has a mask mandate in place for all public businesses and buildings and both school districts require masks. There is no mask mandate in Lafayette County outside city limits.