INDIANOLA —About 30 parents, educators, students and community members gathered at Minnie Cox Park here for the Parents for Safe Schools Rally to protest schools reopening due to the rising number of coronavirus cases and deaths around Mississippi. Many schools across the state are expected to reopen in August despite the rising number of reported cases.

According to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, 2,413 cases have been reported in children between the ages of 11 and 17. As of Thursday, Sunflower County has a total of 721 cases and Bolivar County has 673. Around the state, total confirmed cases have reached 48,053, with 1,436 confirmed deaths. A follow-up rally, led by Mississippi Teachers Unite, is scheduled for Monday in Cleveland.

Here are images from the Parents for Safe Schools Rally:

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Eric J. Shelton was a 2018 corps member in Report for America, and joined the team as our first photojournalist. A native of Columbia, Miss., Eric earned his bachelor’s in photojournalism from the University of Southern Mississippi. He was a multimedia journalist for Abilene Reporter-News, chief photographer for the Hattiesburg American and photo editor for the Killeen Daily Herald before joining our team June 2018. He rejoined Mississippi Today as our health photojournalist in January 2022.