Students participate in class during the first day of school at Neshoba County Central Middle School on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

Since the start of school earlier this month, nearly 900 Mississippi students, teachers or other employees in K-12 schools have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to recently released data by the Mississippi Department of Health.

For the first time, the department is providing information on infections in schools. Every K-12 school in Mississippi, public and private, is required to report information each week on cases and outbreaks among students and staff.

Most public school districts have opened or plan to open this month, though some schools started class as early as July and some won’t start back until after Labor Day. According to data from the Mississippi Department of Education, there were 465,913 students enrolled in public schools during the 2019-2020 school year.

The MSDH data is broken down by county, not individual school or school district. In all, 720 schools in 74 counties reported this information to the state.

Tunica County has the highest student infection rate per capita (the number of cases per 10,000 people) at 13.8, followed closely by Alcorn at 12.9.

Coahoma County currently has the highest per capita rate of teacher and school staff infection at 7.6, with Quitman County following at 6.8 per capita.

You can access a map that breaks down total infection rates by county here.

When combining all school-related Coronavirus cases — both students and school staff —Tunica and Alcorn counties again had the highest infection rate per capita at 17.7 and 15.9.

These numbers were published Aug. 25; the Mississippi Department of Health has stated they will be updated weekly.

Look up information on a specific county here:

View our weekly updates on students and teachers who have tested positive here.

| MORE: COVID-19 daily case data and charts 

Erica Hensley, Alex Rozier and Kayleigh Skinner contributed to this report.

Kelsey Davis Betz is from Mobile, Ala., and currently lives in Cleveland, where she works as one of our Mississippi Delta-based reporters covering education and intersecting issues. Kelsey has a dual degree in journalism and Spanish from Auburn University and worked as an editorial intern at Texas Monthly and a courts reporter at the Montgomery Advertiser. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report and is a co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.