Gov. Tate Reeves extends Safe Return order, places limits on K-12 extracurricular activities

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. — Friday, Gov. Tate Reeves extended the Safe Return order and issued limitations on K-12 extracurricular activities for Mississippi.

Reeves has extended the Safe Return order to Monday, August 31, at 8 AM.

Reeves is also placing an attendance cap on all K-12 extracurricular activities.

Events will not be allowed to have more than two spectators per participant. The governor’s office says this includes events such as football and band concerts.

“One of my greatest concerns heading into this school season has been sports and those other events which cause the community to come out in crowds,” Reeves said. “Twenty-two players on a field is not going to overwhelm a local hospital. Two thousand people in a small school’s bleachers might.”

The challenges of hosting sports have caused many states and districts to completely cancel youth athletics, but Reeves says he believes the impact of sports–and the sense of community for fans–is too valuable to overlook.

“They teach discipline and responsibility in a way that cannot be replicated in a classroom,” Reeves said.

Reeves’ executive order does not address coaches, medical staff or cheerleaders. It also does not specify how programs will get fans in and out of games safely.

Those decisions are left up to those that know local residents the best. But the consequences for a team-wide COVID outbreak could be devastating.

“Very important for everyone to be careful out in their extracurricular activities like parties and socialization, because that’s gonna be where people pick it up,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “It’s gonna be really disruptive when the whole team is out on quarantine, it’s gonna make it impossible to play.”

Reeves admits that all 82 Mississippi counties will see COVID cases this fall and hopes that they take community health as a serious responsibility.

“Work with us. Enforce this if you’re a local school leader,” Reeves said. “Understand if you’re a parent, that this is just the way it is.”

You can read the full executive order here. Reeves says it is “likely” that the crowd limits will be pushed into September.

Mississippi is currently reporting 70,930 coronavirus cases and 2,043 deaths.

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