Pillow Academy has closed its kindergarten building for the entirety of this week after several staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Leflore County recorded its 83rd death from the coronavirus over the weekend.

Barrett Donahoe, Pillow’s head of school, sent an email Sunday to parents of 4K and 5K students that said three teachers and one assistant in the kindergarten program had tested positive for the virus since Oct. 5.

Donahoe wrote that the school was temporarily closing its kindergarten program this week in keeping with “protocols concerning the number of positive cases in a particular group, and out of an abundance of caution.” The email also advised parents to monitor the health of their children and report to the school if anyone in their family tests positive.

The approximately 800-student school was already closed Monday for fall break.

Donahoe said Monday that he was not aware of any additional cases of COVID-19 at the school, for students or staff, since he sent the email.

The school’s kindergarten program, which has about 100 students, is isolated in its own building, separate from other grades, Donahoe said. For this reason, the school was able to shut down the kindergarten for the week while that building is being sanitized but still remain open for students in higher grades elsewhere on campus to continue with in-person classes.

Pillow becomes the first school in the greater Greenwood area that reopened in August for in-person instruction but has had to shut down partially due to an outbreak of the coronavirus. The 12 public schools in the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated District have kept their campuses closed all semester and continue to use only distance learning.

Leflore County’s most recent death from COVID-19, the first to occur this month, was reported Sunday by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The victim was white, but other information about the individual was not immediately available.

Leflore County is tied with Rankin County for the sixth-most deaths from COVID-19. Hinds County, at 167, has the most. The death count statewide is now at 3,101 with the five deaths recorded Sunday. There were no new deaths recorded Monday.

In Leflore County, Blacks have accounted for 67 of the deaths, or 81%, exceeding the estimated overall Black population of 75%. White deaths number 15, or 18%. One death has been listed as “other.”

The overall infection rate in Leflore County continues to remain above the state average.  For the week ending Saturday, the county’s infection rate was the 23rd highest out of the state’s 82 counties, averaging 2.64 new cases daily of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents, according to data tracked by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Brown School of Public Health. Mississippi, averaging 1.98 new cases daily per 10,000 residents, ranks 18th in the nation overall.

As of Monday, Greenwood Leflore Hospital had four patients in its COVID-19 unit, none of whom were on ventilators.

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