Booneville City Schools will continue on their current schedule as the new semester begins in January.
Superintendent Dr. Todd English said the present schedule of having on-campus students attend four days per week and reserving Fridays for online-only students and time to help students who may be behind catch up has worked extremely well and the district plans to continue it through the second semester.
Parents will continue to have the option to choose online-only learning for their students, but the new semester will bring a change in that policy. English explained that any online student with a first semester average below 70 in the four core subjects (math, english, science and history) will be required to change to on-campus learning unless they have a serious medical condition and obtain a waiver from their physician.
The superintendent said they’ve seen throughout this first semester that school is the best and safest place for students to be. He said educational performance is better among those students coming on to campus. He also noted the data shows students are far less likely to get the coronavirus from on-campus activities than they are in the community as a whole.
English explained the low incidence of virus infection in the school environment is the result of its structure and strict adherence to protocols designed to prevent the spread including the consistent wearing of masks, social distancing, and aggressive programs of cleaning and disinfection.
“School is simply the best place for students to be,” he said.
He said almost all of the cases of COVID-19 they’ve had among students and faculty have been traced to an infection that occurred outside of school hours.
While the district is continuing to focus on the health of students, they are also focused on ensuring no child is left behind academically due to the difficulties and changing routines of the spring semester and the current school year.
“We’re not going to sit by and let any child’s education suffer,” he said.
Parents will see a continued and even more intense focus on remediation for struggling students when the new semester begins. English said they are using testing and data to identify students who may be behind and target them for assistance in order to be sure they are where they need to be.
He said it’s vital they remain focused on maintaining high academic standards because while the pandemic will eventually end, the requirement to compete in a challenging and globally competitive economy will not change because of the pandemic.
“What our kids need to know when they graduate doesn’t change,” he said.
He noted recent testing at Anderson Elementary School for kindergarten and first graders shows significant progress in reading proficiency since the start of the current school year. He said 15 percent more of these students are now on grade level than at the beginning of the year.
“That shows that what we’re doing each day is working,” he said.