The Sunflower County Consolidated School District is dropping plans to return to classroom instruction next month and has decided to go 100% virtual for at least the first nine weeks of the school year.
SCCSD announced two weeks ago plans for hybrid instruction where students would return to the classroom for two days out of the week, but a recent surge in COVID-19 cases within the county gave the district pause, and Superintendent Miskia Davis says students and teachers will be equipped for distance learning thanks to a $2 million investment in computers and hotspots.
“All of our technology is slated to be in by mid or end of August,” Davis told The E-T this week. “We’re hoping to have all of our technology in, and every student and every teacher will have a technological device and a hotspot in hand, so when we go virtual, we won’t have the issue of some children having access to technology and some children not.”
Teachers were slated to return to school for orientation and training on Monday, but that has been pushed back to Aug. 24.
Students will begin formal instruction online Sept. 8.
Davis said that district officials have been watching the COVID-19 numbers over the past few weeks and did not see a safe path back to the classroom, and a survey of the teachers and other staff cemented this week’s “tough” decision.
“We just heard in their voices that they were really, really just concerned and anxious about returning to school with the numbers looking like they were,” Davis said.
Not only will students and teachers be affected by this model, but there are dozens of district employees who may be affected as well.
For instance, with students not returning to school the first nine weeks, bus driving and custodial duties will not be needed, but Davis said the district is hoping to utilize those individuals whose jobs are tied to in-person learning for other capacities, and she hopes that their positions and salaries will remain intact.
“However, there is potential for their salaries to be impacted,” Davis said. “With the influx of technology that we will be receiving, we are trying to determine if we can utilize them to assist in that effort.”
Davis said she hopes the community will work together to get the number of patients down so that students can return to face-to-face instruction.