“It is with great sadness, and a broken heart, that I announce the passing of one of my 8th grade band students,” read a post by the Raleigh High School band’s Facebook page on Saturday. The young lady was remembered as “the perfect student” in the post, before asking the community for prayers for her family, her bandmates and everyone at Raleigh High.
According to the Mississippi Free Press, the child died less than a day after testing positive for COVID-19 and had attended her classes for most of the week leading up to her death. The Smith County School District originally opted to forgo a mask mandate on campuses, but just three days into the new term, the number of positive cases among students and faculty prompted the district to change their strategy and require masks for all students and staff.
Gov. Tate Reeves held a press conference on Friday, where he explained that he would be extending the COVID-19 state of emergency and outlined the massive shortage of resources and staff that have crippled the state’s healthcare system. Still, the governor stood fast in his resolve to avoid statewide mask mandates “for any category of Mississippians,” including school children.
State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, at the same press conference, urged all eligible individuals to get vaccinated and wear masks and socially distance as much as possible indoors.
The 8th grade band student beloved by her teachers at Raleigh High School is the fifth Mississippi child lost to COVID-19 this year, and the sixth since the beginning of the pandemic.
The most recent data from MSDH shows that as of Friday, Aug. 13, 40% of all Warren County residents are fully vaccinated.