With Thursday’s approval by the State Board of Education (SBE) of hybrid education through the end of October, the DeSoto County School District (DCS) Board of Education has moved to use the hybrid option for Hernando High School students now learning virtually.
Hernando High went to virtual learning on Tuesday of this week due to a growing number of coronavirus cases among its student body, “a cluster of cases or potential outbreaks,” Supt. Cory Uselton said at the time.
The school was expected to be in virtual learning through Aug. 27.
With the SBE decision Thursday, Uselton asked and had approved by the DCS school board a recommendation for a hybrid plan that will have half of the student body learning virtually one day for the entire day, followed by the other half of the student body going virtual the following day for that entire day.
This new plan will go into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Complete virtual learning will continue until that date.
While the entire student population continues on the full virtual schedule until Aug. 25, teachers will be in the process of planning for the hybrid program installation on that day.
This is to be the plan going forward on a temporary basis until school administrators determine it is safe to return all students back into the classroom.
It is expected that parents of Hernando High School students will receive by email more detailed information from school administrators Friday about the hybrid plan going forward.
While Hernando High School is now the only school that will use the hybrid option, Uselton said it may be implemented at other schools if the need arises.
“This option is now available for schools to avoid a closure with 100 percent virtual learning, and DeSoto County Schools will only implement this model on a school-by-school basis as needed,” Uselton said.
Meanwhile, Assistant Supt. Van Alexander, who is in charge of human resources for DCS, said two measures were presented and approved that would help district teachers and employees with COVID-19 related and other absences.
Among the measures was the allowance of eight administrative leave days to employees who test positive for COVID-19, provide a positive test result from a medical provider, and are quarantined according to district guidance.
Administrative leave will be provided to employees beginning July 1 and will remain for any period of time for which the Governor’s State of Emergency remains intact.
The board approved this measure with a unanimous vote.
Board members also unanimously approved four additional sick leave days for positions that are currently eligible to receive sick leave. The additional days are for the current school year only and won’t be available in future school years.
Uselton also informed board members Thursday that it appears the state’s largest school district grew by 132 students this year, a positive item because there has been a trend for public school districts in Mississippi to have dwindling numbers.
Last school year, DeSoto County Schools had a student population of 34,239 students.