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When it comes to this virus and our response, timing is everything

In the days leading up to the start of the school year, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and others called on the Vicksburg Warren School District to hold off the start of classes. They asked district officials to delay the start of school due to the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases.

There was a back and forth between school leaders and city leaders, and Flaggs readily admitted he had no authority but was simply asking that children not go back in the classroom on the Aug. 7 start date.

And even though school officials decided to move ahead, a delay in shipments of crucial personal protective equipment and other safety supplies ultimately forced them to push back the start to Aug. 17.

That delay in those shipments may very well have been a blessing.

On Aug. 8, the day after schools would have started, Warren County marked its highest one-day total for new COVID-19 cases during the months-long pandemic with 56. 

During that same time, the county was close to being declared a virus hot spot by state health officials and the number of new cases over the previous 14 days was at its peak.

During the 10-day delay, the number of cases began to decline, albeit slowly, and the reopening and safety plans of theVWSD, as well as Vicksburg Catholic School which also delayed their start, were fine-tuned.

Since then, more than a month later, our community has been beyond blessed with just one confirmed case among students and three other confirmed cases involving school personnel.

Vicksburg Catholic School has reported just one teacher being quarantined for possible exposure.

And, during that time, the number of new and active cases in Warren County has plummeted to numbers not seen since the early days of the pandemic.

Monday, Flaggs complimented school officials on their reopening plans and the safety protocols in place that protect those children attending in-person classes and those teachers and staff joining them in our schools.

As with every decision during this pandemic, hindsight is, yes, 20/20, and all we can ask is that our leaders — both in the public and private sectors – do their best. It is our hope, our prayer, that the numbers continue to decline and that our children and our school personnel remain safe and well.

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