Cleveland School District students returned to school, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. Students and staff are required to wear masks. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Just as it did last school year, the Mississippi State Department of Health is releasing weekly data on coronavirus infections in schools, though it is always incomplete and highly variable.

These reports contain data about how many students, teachers and staff tested positive for the virus. The reports also show how many people are in quarantine in a given week, as well as how many outbreaks occurred at a school.

Though both public and private schools in all 82 counties are required to submit weekly reports to MSDH, many do not. Because this data is self-reported and not every school or district participates, the figures change from week to week.

The week of Aug. 23-27 saw a dip in the total number of schools submitting information, as well as a lower number of infections. School reporting for that week was impacted by Hurricane Ida, according to MSDH. The week of Oct. 4-8 saw less schools reporting due to fall break, according to the department.

These reports show the cumulative total cases since August 2021 has decreased each week since the week of Sept. 20-24. When asked how this was possible, MSDH told Mississippi Today these weekly reports contain only the data from schools that submitted that week, meaning it is not actually a cumulative total but instead a “snapshot.”

For general COVID-19 Mississippi trends with daily case, death and hospitalization updates, as well as testing data charts and other helpful interactive maps and graphs, click here.

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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.