Coahoma County School District interim superintendent Dr. Ilean Richards has her sights set on getting students back in the classroom and highlighted some of her plans during Tuesday’s board meeting.
Some students had been going by the hybrid model where they attended school some days and went to class virtually other days. Other students learned virtually every day.
Richards said with the COVID-19 pandemic still out there, the CCSD is following the CDC guidelines when children have been exposed to something. She said most parents have done a good job calling the schools when their child has a high temperature.
She said diagnostic testing showed all kids need to be in school.
“When I looked at what was happening, especially in the elementary grades where students have been out since last March, they have regressed,” Richards said.
“Virtual is better than nothing, but we know that the best instruction is provided face-to-face. That’s what we are aiming for.”
Earlier in the meeting, board member Milroy Harris expressed similar concerns about virtual learning.
“Nationwide they say it isn’t working,” Harris said.
Richards said kindergarteners through third graders will be on campus Monday through Thursday starting Nov. 2.
“I’m having parents tell me kids are happy to be back in school,” she said.
Richards said kindergarteners through sixth graders will be in school from 7:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The school day had ended at 12:30 p.m.
With the hybrid model, students had been on campus Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. In an effort to provide more consistency, students will be on campus Mondays through Wednesdays.
Richards said all Friars Point Elementary School students are on campus. One Lyon Elementary School student is not on campus, three Sherard Elementary School students are not on campus and four Jonestown Elementary School students are not on campus. She said students who have been absent received notes from doctors.
Coahoma County Jr./Sr. High School principal Cortney Jackson provided an update to the board since it is an at-risk school and discussed moving virtual students to the hybrid model. She said all seventh through ninth graders moved to the hybrid model this week and sophomores through seniors will do the same next week.
“We are making contact with those parents,” said Jackson of students who have been absent. “They have expressed their concerns. We are telling them that their children are being marked absent right now.”
Jackson said most parents did not resist the hybrid model. Some students who have been absent received doctor’s notes.
Jackson said the attendance rate in August was 99.79 percent and 95 percent in September.
Jackson said a total of 497 students are enrolled in the school, which is an increase from 404 one year ago.
Richards said 1,120 students are enrolled in the entire district. Some were Coahoma Early College High School students last year. Those students moved to the CCSD after CECHS went to an early college model.
“We are up a little from last year,” Richards said. “That’s primarily due to Early College students enrolling in our school district.”
Since Coahoma County Jr./Sr. High School moved from an F to a D grade with the Mississippi Department of Education during the 2018-19 school year, the state awarded district employees a total of $40,720. The money is to be split between 15 employees who worked for Coahoma County Jr./Sr. High School in 2018-19 and are still employed by the district.
“That’s something really good to motivate the teachers and make them know if you work really hard and your kids do what they need to do, then there is a reward,” Jackson said.
Technology director Anthony Dixon reported through the CARES Act, the district received 1,100 chromebooks and received 87 of them so far. The district also received 125 laptops.
Dixon reported the district received technology items that added up to $976,307.80.
“We blessed to have close to $1 million of grant funds given,” Dixon said.
Richards said the district is fully prepared for virtual learning.
“We’re probably one of the few schools in north Mississippi where every student has access to a device,” she said. “All of our students have chromebooks or if they don’t have chromebooks in kindergarten through eighth-grade, they have iPads. That is not an issue. What we’re getting here are additional devices, so that if something breaks down, you will have that.”
The board also approved a district test security plan for the current school year.
Richards said the Mississippi Department of Education ended testing last year.
“However, this year, the feds have told them all states must go back to testing this spring,” she said.