Corinth students have the option of returning to campus in the new school year or continuing the virtual school life.

The Corinth School District Board of Trustees voted Thursday night to adopt the format for the coming school year, which poses many challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the policy decision has been made, it comes with caution that it could change as the pandemic situation continues to evolve and schools get varying guidance.

While some districts are looking at pushing back the start date of school, Corinth is holding firm on the July 27 date for now. By returning to campus, the district hopes to give students and staff a sense of returning to normalcy.

Superintendent Lee Childress said he expects less than 10 percent of students will go the virtual route based on responses to a school district survey.

“If everything goes like we think it will, I think that people will see that we are going to make a good solid effort to create as safe and healthy a learning environment as we can,” he said.

However, there are circumstances in which students may have health issues or the adults in the home may have health issues, making the virtual option preferable for safety.

Those who wish to participate in virtual school need to notify the school district by Friday, July 17. Students may enter or exit the virtual model only on nine-week intervals.

The district wants to make sure the virtual option is not viewed as a “free pass.”

“In order to get credit to be counted as present, they’re going to have to sign in, they’re going to have to participate in learning and they’re going to have to complete a daily assignment,” said Childress.

Students participating from home must also comply with the normal school dress code. Those who choose the virtual model will be allowed to participate in school activities and will be able to pick up school meals once a week.

Students and staff reporting to campus will get temperature screenings upon entering the building. Those with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will be sent home until they are fever-free for 72 hours. The district does not want any student who is taking a fever-reducing medication to report to school. Any students who become sick during the school day will be sent home.

The district will provide two face coverings to all students. Teachers will get two face coverings along with a face shield.

Students in grades pre-K through 3 must wear a face covering in all common areas but not when seated in the classroom with social distancing. Face coverings will be required at all times for grades 4-12 except when social distancing is possible. Students in grades 7-12 will change classes.

Meals will be served in the classrooms with a goal of transitioning to regular cafeteria service later in the school year.

Classrooms and other spaces will be stocked with cleaner, hand-sanitizer, towels, wipes and gloves for intermittent cleaning. Students and staff will be encouraged to wash hands frequently and use hand-sanitizer throughout the day.

Recesses will take place in green spaces but playground equipment will not be used until safer conditions exist.

On the school bus, students will have assigned seats with siblings seated together. Buses will be sanitized between routes, and the district is looking at ways to reduce the amount of time students are on the bus.

The schools will have no field trips, indoor assemblies or pep rallies. Outdoor assemblies may be considered if guidelines allow.

Band will be held but there will be no fall competitions.

The district has decided that the normal grading policy will remain in effect throughout the coming school year regardless of what school model is taking place. The graduation requirement for the class of 2021 will be the minimum state requirement (24 credits) rather than the district’s normal higher requirement, but students will still have to take the additional math and science courses required by the district. Students in both models will take all Mississippi and Cambridge required assessments.

The district will give all students an e-mail address and allow for printing from school district devices at home to deal with some of the technical issues that arose during the last school year’s closure.

The district is not anticipating the need to hire any additional staff to run the two models in the coming year.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association is meeting on Tuesday, and some guidance on sports is expected.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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