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In-person learning time will reduce on Dec. 7th amid coronavirus surge

A message from Dr. Marlon King. Letter format.

Student time in school reduced amid coronavirus surge for the holidays

The latest data around COVID-19 positivity rates and spread in Jackson-Madison County continues to be a concern as it relates to the health of our community. While we should celebrate successfully educating more in-person students than any other school district in our region, I am also concerned as I watch the increase of COVID-19 in our community. Staying tuned to the spread of this virus via daily local, state, and national reports, observing varied media outlets, and engaging the community have allowed me to gain insight as my team and I think through the safest options for our students and our employees. While I am a proponent of the “in-person” learning option, I am also a leader who cares about our community. Knowing that this virus does not discriminate and is expected to continue to surge in the coming weeks, I would rather make a decision that is out of an abundance of caution rather than continue educating roughly 65% of our students in schools for five days a week while COVID-19 positivity rates increase. Although an overwhelming number of schools are doing a superb job with reducing the spread of the virus in schools, there are some instances where we struggle with the impact of the spread of the virus which tends to cause problems with staffing. Employees and families are responsible for reporting when they have been exposed and/or contracted COVID-19. It seems like the simple responsibility of self-reporting would be an easy win; however, it has become a critically important concern. As we observe and report our daily isolation and quarantine totals, it is important for all to understand that there is a possibility that our totals could be skewed due to a lack of cooperation when it comes to self-reporting. Local health department officials have also stated their concern about reporting difficulties. There is still another kink in the complexity of continuing our “in-person learning” option for a full five days. We have not developed a solution around enforcing personal responsibility, and I am not so sure there ever will be, as one’s own convictions and values would have to drive this effort. In collaboration with our school principals, who all unanimously echoed the sentiments of their staffs, we have witnessed best practices in minimizing the spread of the coronavirus and believe that the “In-person” learning option should return to the “Hybrid” learning option which will still allow students time in school. As a parent of a child who is a student in the JMCSS, I would like the courtesy of being able to plan my child’s path for learning since the system is reducing the time spent in-person. I speak for all the parents of children who will be impacted by this change. To allow time for making family arrangements, the Hybrid learning option will not commence until Monday, December 7th. Our in-person students will attend school all five days for the week of November 30th. The Hybrid learning option will be the same as it was earlier this semester. However, the high school Hybrid learning option will be modified to ensure that students are further distantanced properly. School leaders and teachers will be able to assist as we make this transition. If you need further assistance, please contact my office and my team and I will be happy to serve. Let’s not allow this pandemic to mask the reason for this season. Wishing Happy Holidays to all. Love, -M