DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — Students in Desoto County, Mississippi are headed back to school Thursday and, like most Mid-South districts, masks are optional.
Desoto County Schools recommends students wear masks in school buildings and on buses but doesn’t require it. The district’s policy mirrors guidelines issued by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Charla Blevins says she’s glad her 1st and 3rd graders are able to go mask-free.
“We’re tired of them,” Blevins said, “I can’t breathe in them. I can only imagine what it’s like being in the classroom for seven hours not being able to breathe.”
Lee Cole has two young daughters in the district. She feels a mask mandate might be more effective than leaving it up to each family.
“I feel like it defeats the purpose because either it is or it isn’t,” Cole said, “So, like what are we doing? Like either there’s a virus or there isn’t and so, if you got half the students doing masks and half not doing masks that still makes room for contamination.”
COVID-19 cases are rising in Mississippi with at least three new deaths reported in Desoto County last week. One of those was a child who had an underlying health condition.
Stephanie Sanchez’s two sons attend a private school where masks are optional but she’s making her little ones wear them anyway.
“Especially because I just had a baby,” Sanchez said, “So, I want to keep her safe and them safe as best as possible.”
The state department of health is recommending all eligible students and staff get vaccinated. Currently, anyone 12 and older qualifies.