The Mississippi Department of Education partnered with a workgroup of nine superintendents from a diverse range of school districts to outline the key issues districts need to address for the eventual reopening of schools.
“Considerations for Reopening Mississippi Schools” was released today. It outlines a three-month timeline of strategies to consider as district leaders plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year and addresses six topics:
- Academic Programming
- Family and Community Support
- Health and Safety
- Technology / Learning Management Systems
“This document is intended to be used as a resource and starting point that district leaders can modify in collaboration with local stakeholders and needs,” the report says. “The strategies related to each topic will be updated in three-month intervals to help district leaders plan for each segment of the school year. This will help district and school leaders adjust to the unpredictable and changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Three types of opening schedules are mentioned for consideration. The traditional schedule will require students to be physically present in school with scheduling modifications to follow CDC and MSDH guidelines. A hybrid schedule would combine online with face-to-face instruction, allowing for student populations to be divided in half and alternate days of in-person attendance and distance learning. The virtual schedule would allow for instruction through distance learning.
Dr. Jason Dean, chairman of the State Board of Education, says the goal is getting students and schools back on track to making the education progress Mississippi was experiencing before March 2020 in a safe manner.
“Getting schools started back using the most reasonable approach that considers the health and safety of our students, teachers, administrators, and their families are the forefront of these recommendations,” Dr. Dean told Y’all Politics. “Working with the State Health Officer, the Governor, and the Legislature, our priority is to make the return to school as smooth as possible so Mississippi’s kids can get back on track to making the educational progress we were observing before March. We still have other concerns, specifically how we will deal with extracurricular activities and athletics. Academics come first, though.”
Members of the Superintendents’ Workgroup include Bonita Coleman (Ocean Springs), Todd English (Booneville), Jason Harris (Columbia), Adrian Hammitte (Jefferson County), Tess Smith (Lamar County), Charlotte Seals (Madison), Lance Evans (New Albany), Matt Dillon (Petal), and Miskia Davis (Sunflower County).
MDE will lead two virtual meetings in June 2020 to discuss the specifics and logistics related to the six key issues. Subsequent meetings will be held at the start of each three-month cycle.
The full report is below.