The mASD knows this is a very trying and confusing time for many. For parents and staff of the Mississippi Achievement School District, the obvious question concerns the plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Below is a timeline of updates regarding our reopening plans:
October 23, 2020: Greetings mASD Community,
The following communication includes information on COVID-19, our Phase II Reopening Plan, and Technology/Student Device updates.
Current COVID-19 Data
Since temporarily closing Ida Greene last Thursday after receiving confirmation of the third staff member to test positive within a 14-day period, three additional positive student cases were also confirmed earlier this week. As of today, all staff have been tested and we are awaiting results from staff and students who were attending face-to-face before the school reopens next week.
A student attending the Success Center also tested positive on last Friday. Due to the small number of students attending the Success Center who were all close contacts of the student who tested positive, a decision was made to quarantine all students for 10 days. All Success Center staff have been tested and all results have returned negative.
A staff member at Humphreys County High School received confirmation of a positive test earlier this week. It was reported, however, that this staff member did not report to work after suspected exposure occurred meaning no other staff members at Humphreys County High School were close contacts.
Today, we received unconfirmed reports of three virtual students at McNair Middle School who tested positive in addition to a student at Webster Elementary. Although we have not received (at the time of this post) the actual test results to confirm these additional four student cases, we are going to include them in our total count and make adjustments later if these reports are unsubstantiated.
Since starting school on 9/8, we have had a total of 13 positive COVID-19 cases (five staff members and eight students). Of these 13 cases, 12 occurred within the last 10 days. Our total case count, which we began tracking in May of 2020, is 22 (14 staff members and eight students). What we are experiencing in our district seems to be occurring statewide. Schools reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases the last few weeks in October than they have since August.
County COVID Data and Trends
What we are seeing in our district is also a reflection of community spread in both Yazoo County and Humphreys County. Attached are two data points that we are currently monitoring as it relates to our Phase II Reopening Plan. One is positivity rates and the other is the 14-day case count per 100,000.
The positivity rate represents the percentage of those tested who were actually positive. Of course with more testing, this percentage may increase. Nevertheless, it is preferred for this percentage to be 5% or less. The higher this percentage increases above 5%, the higher the risk of community spread. You can see that both counties were consistently trending down until recently (although the latest available data for Yazoo County remains below 5%).
The 14-day case rate provides insight into how many people in the larger population have recently tested positive. Guidance for school opening using this rate has consistently changed. However, many across the country have used anything from 100 or less to as high as 150 or less as a target to make decisions on reopening schools (face-to-face, hybrid, etc.).
You can see from the chart attached that the 14-day period ending on 10/4 and the period ending on 10/11 saw significant increases in the rate for both Yazoo County and Humphreys County. Although there is no specific recommendation from the State of Mississippi/Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) on what this rate should be when making decisions regarding expanding face-to-face or hybrid opportunities for students, we are erring on the side of caution and are using a range of commonly used decision points (100 to 150) as ONE data point when making decisions.
What does this mean for our Phase II Plans?
We are waiting for the latest data on positivity rates and 14-day case rates to be released by the Mississippi Department of Health (MDH). This along with other feedback and data will be used to determine if we continue to move forward with our Phase II Reopening Plan or if we make modifications to the plan. A decision will be made and announced on or before Monday, October 26th. Parents and students can check our social media accounts on Monday for this decision. Parents and students will also be notified directly from their respective schools. We are asking our parents and community to be prepared for changes to our Phase II Reopening Plan should the data continue to trend in the wrong direction.
Delivery of Devices and Technology Upgrades
Technology upgrade projects (i.e. new underground fiber rings [Yazoo City], new servers, updated wireless access points throughout all buildings, new switches, back-up systems, etc.) are all in the final stages of completion. Smart boards are currently being installed in all classrooms. We are still waiting on the delivery of cameras and other streaming equipment which will also be installed in all classrooms and will greatly enhance the virtual learning experience for scholars and teachers.
On Tuesday, we received the remaining devices for students in Humphreys County and are scheduled to receive the remaining devices for students in Yazoo City on tomorrow. Schools will be contacting families to either switch out old devices with new devices or providing students with new devices for the first time in the coming days.
Lastly, we are asking all in our school communities to remain vigilant with mask wearing, practicing hand hygiene, social distancing, refraining from large gatherings where proper social distancing can not be practiced, etc. We are seeing increased spread of the virus within our communities and are witnessing lackadaisical attitudes and actions of individuals within our communities. These attitudes and actions may be responsible for the increased spread we have recently begun to see in both Humphreys and Yazoo County at-large and in our schools specifically.
Stay safe and stay tuned for an announcement on Monday.
October 15, 2020: COVID-19 Outbreak Declared Today at Ida Greene Elementary School The following communication is currently being delivered to all parents of students at Ida Greene Elementary who are attending school face-to-face. If you are a parent or know of a parent who currently has a student attending school at Ida Greene - please share this information.
Today, around noon, we just received confirmation of our 3rd staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. Per Mississippi Department of Health guidelines, this is considered an outbreak. As such, we will be closing down the school for at least ten days to provide an opportunity for all staff and students to receive COVID-19 testing and time to thoroughly clean and disinfect the building.
We will continue normal operations today. However, you are more than welcomed to pick up your child from school early should you wish. Ida Greene will be officially closed beginning on tomorrow, Friday, October 16th at least until Sunday, October 25th and will reopen on Monday, October 26th.
Right now, the health and safety of our students and staff is our first priority. We will be sending additional communication soon about virtual learning or instructional assignments for students at a later date. Right now, we want to make our school community aware of this new information and provide you an opportunity to pick up your child from school before Ida Greene officially closes tomorrow.
Students may get tested today at the GA Carmichael Clinic between 1:00p.m. - 3:00p.m. or tomorrow between 8:00am - 1:00pm. The clinic is located at 1301 East 1st Street in Belzoni, MS. Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to be tested. You are encouraged to immediately pursue COVID-19 testing here or with another provider of your choosing.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
October 13, 2020: Updated District Calendar Alert -
We have updated our website with the Phase II version of the 2020-21 district calendar. Please refer to this calendar and discard previous versions. The only thing that may change in Phase III or Phase IV will be how Fridays are classified. (Fridays may continue to be virtual days for all or we may revert Fridays to face-to-face for some or all students). Please note that the last day of school has also changed from June 18th to June 9th.
October 6, 2020: The mASD is now planning for PHASE II of our Reopening Plan which will begin on November 2nd and end after the completion of the 2nd quarter/grading period (January 27th)
WHAT WILL REMAIN THE SAME IN PHASE II?
1. Any student in grades K-12 may still choose the 100% virtual option.
2. Fridays will continue to be a virtual day for ALL students.
3. Prek, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade students, and self-contained special education students will still have the option of attending school face-to-face on Monday - Thursday.
4. Most health and safety practices and protocols implemented in Phase I will remain the same (except for #3 & #4 below).
WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT IN PHASE II?
1. We are opening up more space for kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students to attend face-to-face Monday - Thursday if desired.
2. 4th - 12th graders will now have the option of attending face-to-face in a hybrid model (AB/AB or AA/BB) if desired.
3. At the elementary level, class sizes may increase (not to exceed state mandated class size limits). We don't have the physical space or enough teachers to be able to split classes in half as we did in Phase I when we offered face-to-face instruction to a smaller number of students.
4. Due to the number of buses in our fleet, we may have to increase the student capacity on buses from our current limit of 22 (one per seat w/ the exception of siblings) to a number greater than 22.
5. School start times and end times MAY change to accommodate bus transportation needs.
Your child's school will be reaching out to you beginning this week to provide detailed information on the Phase II options available. During the week of October 12th - October 16th, parents will be able to register/select the option desired for their child. Registration for Phase II will be facilitated at the school level.
**Any student who is not registered for Phase II by Friday, October 16th will be automatically registered as a 100% virtual student. Except for extremely extenuating circumstances, parents will not be able to make changes after Friday, October 16th.**
For questions - please contact your child's school directly.
September 6, 2020: First Day of School Message to our Staff
In less than 36 hours, the first day of school will be upon us. This video message is dedicated to our staff - our HEROES!
September 1, 2020:
We have important information to share regarding the following topics:
Internet Access for those virtual students with devices but no access to internet at home
Meal options for virtual students
Bus Route/Transportation information for students attending school face-to-face and those students in Humphreys County without access to internet at home
View document here.
August 12, 2020:
Virtual/Distance Learning and Device Usage and Distribution
Greetings mASD Community -
This message is intended for all parents of students in the mASD. All parents of students who are in need of a district issued device (Chromebook, laptop, iPad, etc.) will be required to pay a $25 usage fee ($50 for parents with two or more enrolled children). This fee must be paid at the time of device distribution which will be coordinated and communicated by each school. Additionally, parents and students will need to sign the Device Usage Form. Students who plan to use their own device will not be charged a usage fee and will not have to sign a usage agreement. There is a process in place at schools for parents who may not be able to pay the usage fee immediately.
Lastly, all parents and students must sign the Consent for Distance Learning Agreement. This form will be required by ALL students since all students will engage in some form of distance/virtual learning in the 2020-21 school year. There is no "opt out" option available.
Schools will notify parents when they may pick up student devices. Both forms will be available at the school for signing purposes. You Do Not need to print and bring these forms with you.
August 7, 2020:
The recording of yesterday's mASD Reopening Stakeholder Meeting #3 is below. If you are a parent who did not have an opportunity to participate yesterday, it is vital that you watch/listen for important and time sensitive updates
August 6, 2020: LOW COST HOME INTERNET PLAN AVAILABLE BY AT&T
AT&T is offering home high speed internet to available areas in Mississippi for $10 per month. All households with students in the mASD qualify for the $10 per month pricing because 100% of students in both Yazoo City and Humphreys County participate in the National School Lunch program.
Service through AT&T is available in most (if not all) of our attendance area in Yazoo City. The service is available in some but not all parts of Humphreys County. We do know that service may not be available for homes in Silver City, Louise, Midnight, and Isola at the present time. However, we urge parents to double and triple check to be sure. Please flyer for details.
July 14, 2020:
Due to a number of factors, district leadership has considered making a change to the student school uniform policy for the 2020-21 school year. Please watch the brief video to learn about this update/change. More information will be forthcoming but we wanted to begin circulating this message to parents and students today since registration is currently underway.
July 10, 2020:
Greetings all - Unfortunately Dr. Wright forgot to hit the record button during last evening's virtual community meeting so we will not be able to share the video of the meeting. However, we are sharing the presentation from the meeting which contains all of the pertinent information and details shared. Stay tuned for the date and time for School Reopening Meeting #3. Thank you to everyone who attended and provided feedback.
Please share this presentation with anyone who may not have been able to attend: Virtual School Opening Update Meeting #2
July 1, 2020:
PARENTS - this post is specifically for you. In response to the many comments and questions regarding our school reopening plans we announced yesterday, we want to remind and/or inform you about a few things: If you did not have an opportunity to attend the virtual School Reopening Community Meeting on June 23rd or did not watch video recording of the meeting, please take the time to do so.
During this meeting we addressed the following:
#1 - Health and safety challenges in the age of COVID-19
#2 - The district's commitment to prioritizing health and safety of students and staff
#3 - The rationale for a proposed September 8th start date
#4 - The current state of the district's ability to provide quality virtual learning for students.
#5 - The district's plan to improve our ability to provide quality virtual learning for students.
#6 - We provided participants opportunities throughout the meeting to ask questions, present concerns and to provide us feedback on our recommendations prior to making the decisions announced yesterday.
We are urging all of our parents to please watch the presentation so that you may be armed and informed with accurate information. LASTLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY We stated throughout the the meeting that regardless of which reopening model was chosen - any parent could choose to keep their child at home and the district will be responsible for providing a 100% virtual option to those children. During online registration, (which will launch on July 13th), parents will have the option of selecting either the hybrid option for enrollment or the virtual option for enrollment if that is their choice.
June 30, 2020:
As promised, we are ready to announce that Tuesday, September 8th, will be the first day of school for the 2020-21 school year. Additionally, we have decided to open school with a Hybrid Reopening Model/Schedule. Mondays and Wednesdays will be designated as A Days while Tuesdays and Thursdays will be designated as B Days. Half of district students will attend in-person on A Days and will participate in virtual learning at home on B Days. The other half of district students will attend in-person on B Days and will participate in virtual learning at home on A Days.
Fridays will be designated as Virtual Days for all students. Specific details regarding how the Hybrid Model/Schedule will work will be shared at our next community update meeting which is scheduled for Thursday, July 9th at 6pm via zoom (change from 5:30pm). We will post the zoom link and provide reminder leading up to July 9th.
We now need your feedback on the two school calendar options which can be viewed using the link below.
Both calendar options illustrate the selected hybrid model with a September 8th start date. Both calendar options also designate all school days in June as virtual. The major differences between Calendar A and Calendar B are the length of Thanksgiving and Winter breaks and the date for the last day of school. Dates for state testing, graduation, and other major district events have not yet been added.
June 23, 2020:
Thank you to all of the parents, staff, and community members who participated in today's school opening considerations virtual community meeting. There were 260-300 people logged in at any given time. For those who were not able to join, you may view the meeting here.
June 22, 2020:
Dear Parents and Community Members,
Please plan to participate in our virtual community meeting on tomorrow, Tuesday, June 23rd at 5:30pm. The virtual meeting will be hosted on the Zoom platform. You may join by clicking the link below on your laptop, desktop, tablet or even your phone. You may also call into the meeting using your phone. If you plan to just listen to the call and not ask questions or comment, you do not need to download the zoom app. However, if you wish to comment and ask questions, you must download and utilize the zoom app on your mobile phone. As an FYI - no final decisions have been made regarding when and how we will re-open school. The purpose of tomorrow's meeting is to present the options to you and to receive feedback which will be used to make final decisions very soon.
October is National Principals Month and we are delighted to honor all of our chief school leaders in the Mississippi Achievement School District (mASD).
This year more than ever, they have demonstrated stellar leadership by quickly adapting to our ever so changing landscape and modeling the way for their staff, scholars, and families.
John Maxwell says that everything rises and falls on leadership. This means that the leader determines the limit on the potential for the organization (school) to grow. In the mASD, our potential is limitless as all of our leaders are dedicated to ensuring that each student receives an educational experience worthy of consumption.
Please join us in celebrating and honoring each of our chief school leaders during National Principals Month.