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A quarter of a Mississippi school district's Hispanic students were absent the day after an immigration raid

More than 25% of a Mississippi school district's Hispanic or Latino student population missed classes a day after immigration authorities...

Posted: Aug 9, 2019 2:15 PM
Updated: Aug 9, 2019 8:00 PM

More than 25% of a Mississippi school district's Hispanic or Latino student population missed classes a day after immigration authorities rounded up hundreds of undocumented workers at food processing plants in the state, a school superintendent said.

Of the Scott County School District's 560 Hispanic or Latino students, 154 were absent from school Thursday, Superintendent Tony McGee said.

Attendance improved a day later. Fifty Hispanic or Latino students missed school on Friday, McGee said.

The reasons for each school absence weren't immediately clear. But school officials are visiting the homes of the absent Hispanic and Latino children to relay a message: They'll be safe at school, Assistant Superintendent Chad Harrison said

'We're trying to make sure these kids know they got a safe place,' Harrison told CNN's 'New Day' on Friday.

At least 680 undocumented immigrants were detained Wednesday in raids at seven food processing plants across central Mississippi, including two in Morton, a city in Scott County.

After being scheduled for proceedings before federal immigration courts, many of the workers were released. More than 300 of them had been released by Thursday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said.

Those who had previously been ordered removed from the US were processed for removal, ICE said.

The raids had several knock-on effects for affected families, including the workers' children, some of whom didn't immediately have adults to go home to Wednesday. Volunteers took some of them to a gym in the city of Forest, distributing donated food and drinks to them until the kids were united with family members.

By Wednesday night, every affected child in the Scott County school district was with a parent or guardian, Harrison said.

Hispanic and Latino children comprise about 29% of the student population in Morton, according to McGee.

Another school district was put on a 'soft lockdown'

In Forest, schools were on a 'soft lockdown' as a safety precaution Friday because the district received suspicious phone calls after the raids, a school official said in a recorded voice message sent to parents.

The district received the calls Friday morning, and they were reported to authorities, Forest Municipal School District Superintendent Karen Norwood said in the message.

Classes would be held as normal, but the district will 'limit people coming and going from buildings,' Norwood said.

Norwood, in a phone call with CNN, declined to give details about the suspicious phone calls.

Educators and others say they're looking out for families

The raids affected attendance on Wednesday, as well. Most of the Scott County district's Hispanic or Latino students had checked out of school by afternoon's end, Harrison said. Many people flocked to a parking lot of one of the plants in Morton that day, waiting for news about the detainees.

District officials have met with pediatric specialists and are organizing a team to bring mental health care services to schools starting next week, McGee said.

Another concern is that those detained will be out of a job, Harrison said.

'These families have a great need for food, clothing' and rent money, he said, 'because they don't know when they're going to be able to go back to work.' Churches and community organizations, he said, are 'coming together and trying to help these families.'

Norwood said her district in Forest is supporting its students 'no matter what their needs may be.'

'The children are obviously very upset and of course it's heartbreaking to watch,' she said. 'We are just trying to address student needs on an individual basis.'

Teachers told McGee, the Scott County superintendent, that Wednesday was one of the worst days they've experienced, he said.

'As a parent, when your kids hurt, you hurt,' McGee said. 'And as a teacher, when your kids hurt, you hurt.'

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 156868

Reported Deaths: 3851
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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