Editor’s Note: This information was accurate at press time, however this is a fluid situation and dates can change at any moment.
Area school children are scheduled to return to the classroom next week and teachers and administrators are busy getting classrooms ready and plans in place as the coronavirus continues to plague the nation.
Forest Municipal Schools released their back to school plans earlier this month as did the Scott County School District. Both plans are in depth and specifically cater to the individual schools within the districts. The plans in their entirety can be found on the districts’ websites. For Forest that is www.forest.k12.ms.us and Scott County is scott.k12.ms.us.
The county schools had initially planned to return in a “soft opening” format beginning this week but due to the continued rise in positive cases of COVID-19 recently postponed the first day of school until August 6 which also coincides with the city schools.
All county school students with last names beginning with the letter A-L are being asked to return to school on Thursday, August 6 and students with last names beginning with M-Z return on Friday, August 7. The following week A-L students will be in school on Monday, August 10 and Wednesday, August 12. M-Z students will report to class on Tuesday, August 11 and Thursday, August 13. Friday students will stay at home and work on at-home learning packets. On Monday, August 17 all students will return to school beginning the regular schedule of classes. Temperatures of all students will be taken each morning and if there is a temperature of 100.4 or higher the student will be asked to return home.
In addition the county schools will offer an “At-Home/Virtual Learning Plan” for those who require it. There are strict guidelines for the at home program and parents must fill out an application and return it to the school by Friday, July 31 to be considered. Students who are approved for this program are not eligible to participate in extracurricular activities. The guidelines and application can also be found on the county school website previously referenced.
Forest Municipal Schools modified their back to school plan last week and now will begin school on a hybrid schedule beginning next week.
“In response to the growing national numbers of the COVID-19 crisis and evaluating data and concerns from our community, parents and staff, the Forest Municipal School District is modifying the original plan for return for students,” the “Plan B” reads. “Our decisions were made on what’s best for our community at this time.”
Under the hybrid schedule students will return to school on an assigned date beginning August 6 on a modified schedule. Each student’s assigned day will depend on their grade and school building. On that assigned day, there will be Orientation to the Hybrid Model that will combine at-home packets and virtual learning that will be in effect until September 16.
Students will be invited in small numbers on staggered days and times for drop off and pick up to practice social distance on buses and in the classrooms. Specific directions on when students will report will be released by each school building in detail.
All students will return to the building tentatively on September 16 and follow the original “Plan A” which remains available on the website previously referenced.
Individual school schedules are being updated and designed to adhere with state and national guidelines. There will also be a series of Town Hall Meetings both virtual and in-person that will be held over the course of the next couple of weeks. That schedule will be released soon.
Food service will be providing breakfast and lunch every day beginning August 6. Details are being worked out now.
Masks will be required for all students and staff members and they have been added to the school supply lists so that students can “pick out what kind of mask and/or face shield is comfortable and appropriate for them.” Disposable masks will also be provided by the school district.
Special plans are also being made for meals in the individual schools. Current plans call for Forest Elementary School and Hawkins Middle School students to be provided their meals in the individual classrooms. Forest High students will go to the dining room to pick up their cafeteria meals and return to the classroom to eat. For the virtual at home days there will be food distribution lines at the high school and middle school where meals can be picked up.
County school meal plans vary by school and are available on their websites.
Like the county schools, Forest Municipal schools will be doing temperature checks upon arrival and students with temperatures of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed to remain on campus. Again the complete school by school plans are available at the Forest Municipal School District website previously referenced.