Gov. delays return to classroom for certain 7-12 graders, issues statewide mask mandate

An executive order issued by Governor Tate Reeves will delay some students’ return to the classroom in certain hotspot areas in Mississippi. 

The governor’s order will delay the beginning of the academic year in eight counties – including Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola, Sunflower, & Washington – until August 17th.

The order will also mandate that masks must be worn by students and teachers alike in schools across the state. Similarly, the governor will sign an additional executive order implementing a statewide mask mandate. 

“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,” Governor Reeves said. “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. That is what we’re doing today. This is the beginning of that effort, not the end.”

The governor had been previously hesitant to issue such an order and had instead issued mask mandates for individual counties. Currently, 37 counties fall under that order. 

Comparing the decision to wait on a statewide mask mandate to his previous decision to hold off on issuing the original ‘shelter-in-place’ order, Governor Reeves said it’s about ensuring maximum participation.

“Everything that we have done has been about getting the most possible cooperation from the people of this great state. I believe there is enough motivation to safely get our kids in school that we really juice participation of mask-wearing throughout our state for the next two weeks,” he said.

Watch today press briefing below: