DeSoto County superintendent says district has listened to doctors

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HERNANDO, Miss. – DeSoto County Schools Superintendent Cory Uselton is finally addressing claims by a group of pediatricians that their medical advice is being ignored and that their emails to the district aren’t being returned.  

Uselton estimated the district had heard from around 10 doctors about the district’s COVID policies. He said some have pushed for mask mandates, but that others had not. 

“We’ve had other physicians who have said that they are not saying that we should mandate masks and some that have pointed out the psychological effects,” said Uselton.  

Uselton isn’t disclosing the names of the doctors who’ve reached out to the district because he says they were reaching out in their capacity as parents.  

Thursday, WREG spoke to two pediatricians with students in DeSoto County Schools who say the district has been unresponsive to their input. Dr. Jessica Gartrell said she had been reaching out since July. 

“I’ve reached out to them several times and I’ve been told that it would be passed on to leadership, but when I ask who is that leadership and who’s making these decisions, I’m met with silence and no response,” said Gartrell.  

When asked about Gartrell’s claim, Uselton said, “I don’t know about those emails, but I can assure that if someone’s emailing me, we’re making sure I either respond to it or someone on our staff is responding to them.”  

Gartrell said she would recommend the district impose a mask mandate. 

“At this time, the only agenda that could be preventing universal masking is a political one,” she said. 

But many parents who spoke at Thursday’s school board meeting say it’s the other way round.  

“To say that a majority of doctors have an opinion doesn’t make it not potentially a political opinion,” said one parent. 

While DCS doesn’t currently have any plans to reverse it’s mask policy, Uselton wouldn’t rule it out. 

“I don’t rule out anything during COVID,” he said.  

When the district last released its numbers Monday, 496 students and 82 staff members had tested positive for COVID.  This week’s numbers will be released next Monday. 

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