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VWSD discusses reopening plans during special-called meeting

When school resumes in the Vicksburg Warren School District Aug.7, many of its students could be learning from home, according to a school district survey of parents.

The survey, Superintendent Chad Shealy said, shows “about half of our students are staying home and about half of our students are coming (to school).”

The survey was part of Shealy’s presentation Tuesday of the school district’s reopening plan outlining policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff in the school system. It indicated 49 percent of the parents surveyed preferred their children participate in distance learning. Forty-four percent indicated they would send their children to school.

He said the survey also indicated the majority of parents whose students will be attending school for in-person instruction will drive their children to class instead of letting them ride the school bus. 

That information, Shealy said, means fewer children will be riding the buses when school begins. He said as long as 25 percent or more of the district students participate in distance learning, lunch will be delivered by bus routes to the students.

Besides the district’s plan, he said, each of the district’s schools has its own plan. School district spokeswoman Christi Kilroy said the reopening plans for the district and the individual schools are available online at vwsd.org/reopen. 

Under the reopening plan, students coming to school will be scanned to determine if they have a fever. Any child with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more will be sent to a quarantine room, where their temperature will be taken again with an oral thermometer after a 10-minute wait.

If the second reading is below 100.4 degrees the student will be allowed to attend class. If the temperature remains at 100.4 degrees or higher, the parents will be called.

Students attending school who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and will be away from school for a long period of time will participate in distance learning. 

Students will be required to wear masks and engage in social distancing while in the quarantine room.

Shealy said facemasks will be required for bus drivers and students riding the buses. Masks will not be required for students or teachers in the schools “but will be strongly encouraged,” he said.

He said the students will receive five cloth masks — one per day — that can be washed and reused. Teachers and school employees will receive masks and face shields.

Shealy said students attending the River City Early College, which allows students to earn an associate’s degree while attending high school, can attend class in person at the Hinds Community College campus or attend class online.

Students attending class online, however, will not receive college credit. To participate in the program and get college credit, he said, students have to attend classes at Hinds.

“Hinds Community College requires students who participate in their classes to be physically present,” Shealy said. “So if you’re going to want to graduate with an associate’s degree, you have to conform to them.”

Other items in the board’s reopening plan include:

4There will be no open house events.

4No visitors will be allowed on school campuses.

4No school assemblies will be held. 

He said anyone with questions about the reopening plan can go to the school district’s website at www.vwsd.org.

“I want to be as safe as possible to reduce the amount of risk,” Shealy said. “We are protecting our most precious treasures.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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