A U.S. Superintendent on Reopening His District’s Schools

In Mississippi, which is on track to be the top state for coronavirus infection, the school district in the city of Corinth re-opened its doors last week. Dr. Edward Lee Childress is Superintendent in Corinth. After reopening schools in his district, positive cases of COVID-19 emerged immediately. He speaks to Christiane about how his district is managing.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Tell me what led you to reopen the schools a week ago, and how has that panned out in Corinth?

EDWARD LEE CHILDRESS, SUPERINTENDENT, CORINTH SCHOOL DISTRICT, MISSISSIPPI: We made the decision to reopen our schools based on several factors. One of the factors was that we had factored in that there would be a summer surge that we would be experiencing at the time we were scheduled to reopen schools. We are on a modified calendar, and that would be one of the reasons for our early reopening. We had been sharing and bringing parents in our community along with our process of the plans to reopen schools for about a 10-week period through social media platforms in which we gave parents the opportunity to comment, we conducted surveys. And ultimately, the administration made a recommendation to the board that we plan to reopen our schools.

AMANPOUR: Dr. Childress, of course with the best of intentions, you did that, and then we understand that several infections have happened, there have been kids who have quarantined, several dozen kids quarantined. What have you now done? Have you closed the schools under your jurisdiction? What are the parents saying, the teachers? What state are you in right now?

CHILDRESS: The schools currently remain open. Just as you have mentioned, we have had five positive COVID-19 results among students in our schools. We were open for five days before we had the first positive. Then in the last couple of days, we have identified four additional ones. Our schools are still open, teachers are teaching, and I’m going to have to go back to, you know, last Monday when the schools reopened. It was amazing to see the energy exhibited by the teachers and the excitement of the children for their return to school. Because in many cases, for them, they return to a sense of normalcy that they had not experienced since last March. So, while we have had positive cases among students, while we do have students quarantined, I have been in all three schools today, and learning and teaching is definitely occurring.

About This Episode EXPAND

A special report for Beirut, Lebanon. Then, Christiane speaks with the superintendent of a Mississippi school district, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and soccer icon Megan Rapinoe. Walter Isaacson speaks with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.