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Jackson has concerns as schools are set to reopen Friday

Comprised of four questions, Warren County District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson has posted a survey on her Facebook page in an effort to assess the community’s concern about schools reopening Friday in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jackson said her decision to pose questions on social media was initiated after an outpouring of concern from the district she represents.

“I received a tremendous amount of concern about the Vicksburg Warren School District reopening,” Jackson said. “A lot of that concern is encapsulated in the feeling that decisions are made without listening to the concern of the public and the parents.”

While she acknowledged she does not have any authority over the school district and its decisions, she said she is interested in hearing from her constituents as an elected official.

Jackson said the apprehension of reopening on Friday also came after Vicksburg Warren School District Trustee Alonzo Stevens expressed his concern for starting in-person classes this week. His reluctance, she said, gave her reason to pause, given Stevens’ knowledge of the school system. Before being elected to the school board, Stevens was a teacher and coach at Vicksburg High School for nearly 30 years.

Last week, Vicksburg Catholic Schools announced it was delaying its reopening by a week. Instead of Aug. 10, all students will begin on Aug. 17.

All Porter’s Chapel Academy students will return to classes on Aug. 10.

Students attending the VWSD will have two learning options this year — in-person instruction or distance learning.

Jackson feels that while parents are given a choice, she does not think they are being informed of all the possible consequences that could occur from the COVID-19 virus with in-person learning.

“When you’re given choices that’s an interesting notion,” Jackson said. “It’s like being given two plates of food and you choose one and one has considerable danger, but that danger isn’t relayed and that danger can affect other people in the population.”

In questioning the validity of the VWSD’s two options, Jackson wondered why neither of the private schools was doing the same.

“There must be sufficient concern,” she said. “Why are the private schools or the Catholic schools not giving a choice?”

Jackson said she has decided not to send her three children back for in-person instruction and has yet to determine whether or not she will allow them to participate in extracurricular activities, which the VWSD is allowing for those who choose distance-learning. Students who participate in extracurricular activities must still attend after-school practices.

For some parents, staying home with their children is not an option and Jackson said she sympathizes.

“I’m in the same boat as working mothers,” Jackson said, and suggested leadership come together to help devise a system that could benefit those parents who cannot work from home.

With continual change occurring with the virus, Jackson said, “Given COVID-19, I feel we need to be a bit more nimble even if there is a two-week delay or three-week delay.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has stated he does not plan to waive the state testing nor the required 180 days of instruction.

“Start time does not mean it has to be physical,” Jackson said. “We need to work it out. We work on everything else. To me it’s safety first, lives first.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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