The Booneville School District is going online to start the fall semester.

Classes will be conducted entirely online for at least the first four weeks of the new school year when it begins August 5. The district will remain on an online schedule through at least the Labor Day holiday and a decision about the remainder of the semester will be made the week of August 24.

Superintendent Dr. Todd English said the decision to begin the year online only is one of the toughest he’s had to make and he understands it’s not what many parents may want but it is being made to ensure the safety of students and teachers and the proper operation of the district. Under CDC and state health department guidelines for quarantining those who have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, the district has numerous teachers and staff members who would not be able to work during the first weeks of the semester making it almost impossible to provide a fully operational on-campus program for all grades.

English said the school year will begin on August 5 with resources in place to support every student in their education, including those who may not have Internet access at home and those in special education programs.

“We’re putting a lot of work and effort into this first four weeks of school to make sure every student has a great school year,” he said.

Students will interact with their teachers and classes through the district’s CANVAS learning software, teacher web pages, and other methods to provide both pre-recorded lessons and live interactive learning. English said it’s important for students and parents to understand that expectations and standards will remain high and students will have to meet the same requirements learning online that they would in the classroom.

He hopes to be able to return to on-campus learning after Labor Day and believes on-campus is ultimately the best place for students to learn in order to gain the benefits of social interaction important to growing up. However, he understands the current situation makes that difficult to achieve.

If on-campus classes are offered later in the semester, parents would still have the option to choose online-only learning for their children if they remain uncomfortable with sending them to class.

The district will be providing meal services during the online-only period at the start of the school year and is also putting a plan in place to provide a way for students without home Internet to conduct their studies.

Appointments will be made available for a limited number of students to come to campus each day to use the school district’s Internet service in a safe, socially distanced environment. School buses will transport those students using this service. Buses will also be transporting special education students who need one-on-one, in-person services. Details on these services will be announced soon. Anyone who is on campus for any reason or on a bus will be required to wear a face mask at all times, noted English.

He encourages parents to be sure the district has their most up to date phone numbers, email addresses, and other contact information. All updates and details for parents will be sent out by telephone messages, posted on social media and posted on the district’s website.

The superintendent said he’s extremely proud of the way the district’s teachers, staff and administrators have come together to meet the need of students during these difficult times and praised all those involved for the hard work and long hours they’ve put in to make sure every student has an opportunity for success.

He also thanked parents for their continued support and understanding.

“We’re all in this together and we all want to keep our children safe and for them to be successful,” he said.

English said he also wants every parent to know the district’s staff remains accessible. Anyone who has questions or needs assistance is encouraged to email or call their school or the district office.

Banner Independent Editor

Managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, Brant Sappington has been a member of the Daily Corinthian family since 2001.

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