An eighth-grade girl passed away on August 14 in Raleigh, Mississippi, after starting the school year on August 6, at a school that didn’t require face masks to be worn within the first several days of its opening.
13-year-old Mkayla Robinson’s passing came just hours after she was diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Mississippi Free Press.
Multiple sources reported that on August 15, the Smith County Reformer specified that the young girl died of COVID-19 related complications, however, details of those complications were have not been made known to the public.
“Mkayla was in the Jr. High Lion Pride Band and was an outstanding band member and student,” the Smith County Reformer said of the child.
According to the MFP, Raleigh High School’s band director Paul Harrison posted a memorial for Mkayla on the day she passed to the band’s Facebook page:
The junior high school Robinson attended is part of the Smith County School District where administrators allowed students and staff to wear face masks by choice, opposed to mandating the practice as the school year began.
The MFP reported that positive COVID-19 tests from students and school faculty began to rise three days into the school year and subsequently caused the district to change its decision and take action.
“After much consideration for the welfare of our children, Smith County Schools will require all personnel and students to wear a mask,” the county announced on August 10, according to the local source.
The day before the young girl died, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves conducted a press conference In which he stated that despite the rise in COVID cases, he still had no plans to enforce face coverings and mask mandates.
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“I don’t have any intention of issuing a statewide mask mandate for any category of Mississippians at this time. I don’t know how I can say that differently other than the way I’ve said it repeatedly for a number of days and weeks and months,” the state official told the press that day.
Insider reported that Gov. Reeves’s sentiments from that particular press conference followed his actions in July, when he criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest masking guidelines which encouraged vaccinated and non-vaccinated people to continue wearing masks.
The “change in the CDC’s mask guidance is foolish and harmful and it reeks of political panic to appear that they are in control,” Reeves said. “It has nothing to do with rational science … In Mississippi, we believe in freedom.”
The outlet went onto describe the governor’s comments and direction on masking as a “complete turnaround from last year,” considering that Reeves issued an executive order for Mississippi’s students and school faculty to have on face masks while on school property.
According to Mississippi Today, on August 4, 2020, Gov. Reeves’s statewide mask-wearing mandate noted precautionary measure was “important not only to protect oneself, but also to avoid unknowingly harming our fellow Mississippians through asymptomatic community transmission of COVID-19,” and that it was “the key to reducing transmission of the virus.”
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