County schools plan for reopening amid pandemic conditions

Schools in Copiah County are trying to make a best guess on how to proceed with the reopening of school under the unique conditions caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
School leaders stress that as conditions change, plans for school can also change.
Damario Brown, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said plans for the Copiah County School District include health checks, masks, and a variety of other sanitation and safety precautions.
He also pointed out that plans can change for a variety of reasons. A spike in the number of cases in the county could result in a change of plans. Also, a spike in case numbers or an outbreak at a particular school could result in a change of operational plans for that school.
According to Brown, the use of face masks will be one of the most important changes at county schools during the next year. Masks will be required in most indoors settings, some outdoor settings, and on buses. In some classroom situations where social distancing can be practiced, face masks will not be required.
In addition to requiring face masks and social distancing, hand sanitizer will be provided and frequently used throughout the campuses, and there will be regularly scheduled handwashing for students and staff. Enhanced cleaning procedures will be in place at all schools.
As a precaution, parents are asked to conduct a morning health check on their students before sending them to school or putting them on a bus. If they have a fever, they should be kept at home. This is a proactive request that will help prevent outbreaks of the virus.
Everyone entering school campuses will have their temperature checked and will be required to wear a face mask. Anyone who is not a student or staff member will be required to schedule appointments to enter campuses.
Brown said based on surveys previously sent out to parents, many are choosing to use private vehicles to transport their children instead of putting them on district buses. Because of this, the bus system should work well within social distancing guidelines.
According to information provided by district administrators, all grades will attend school on a hybrid schedule, meaning they will be in class on certain days and other days will use distance learning options.
More schedule information will be provided by each campus as the start date nears.
Registration for the current school year is available on the district’s website at www.copiah.ms. The deadline for registration is Tuesday, July 28. Classes are set to begin Monday, August 10.
Parents with questions about procedures, schedules, or other issues should contact the school their child attends.
Copiah Academy
According to Mitch Mitchell, headmaster at Copiah Academy, classes at the school are set to begin August 7 but with many differences from previous years.
Students are expected to be in class every day unless a directive is given that classes cannot be held as usual.
Mitchell said the school is fortunate that classrooms can be spaced out to accomplish social distancing in most cases. A few classrooms are tight, and sneeze shields have been erected in those areas.
In addition to social distancing, a combination of wearing face masks and extra cleaning procedures will be in place when students return.
There are no plans for hybrid schedules such as those described above for the county district. However, there is an option for distance learning for those families who would rather keep their children at home because of the pandemic.
Mitchell said cafeteria plans are still being worked on and some classes may have to eat in their classrooms.
Currently, all extra-curricular activities are on go for the school, with the first softball game set for August 31.
Hazlehurst Schools
Plans from the Hazlehurst School District were not available at press time. Efforts to contact the superintendent’s office were unsuccessful for several days. There is a virtual student request form on the district’s website that allows parents to request distance learning for their students for the upcoming school year. A minimum commitment of nine weeks is required for the program.