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OSD Makes Plans for Possible Extension to School Closing

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

The Oxford School District is ready to keep children learning whether it’s at school or continuing with the at-home instruction currently taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Superintendent Brian Harvey said he is waiting for an announcement from Gov. Tate Reeves in reward to whether or not students will be allowed to return to the classroom after April 17.

“I think people had hoped the country would be back to normal after Easter, but I think they’ve realized that’s not going to be the case,” he said at the meeting of the OSD Board of Trustees Monday that was held using the Zoom online conference meeting app.

On Thursday, State Health Official Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the coronavirus in “just getting started in Mississippi,” during a press conference with Reeves.

Pres. Donald Trump extending the social distancing recommendations last week which could likely mean schools will remain closed at least through April 30.

“If a decision is made to open, we will be ready,” Harvey said. “If not, we’ll also be ready. We are planning for both.”

Harvey said if schools are closed throughout the remainder of the school year, decisions regarding prom and graduation will have to be made soon.

“These are things we’re thinking about now,” he said. “If schools are canceled, we are thinking about how to deal with those things. We’re planning for both contingencies.”

Harvey said the OSD will have graduation for its seniors either way; however, whether that will be held as usual in the Tad Smith Colosseum or online using a live stream is still a question he didn’t have the answer for Monday.

“Either way, we will have a graduation May 15,” he said.

Harvey commended teachers and staff for their hard work during the last few weeks.

“We have school going on and we have teachers working,” he said. “They are doing a wonderful job. They’ve jumped in with both feet. And our kids are continuing to learn. Is it as good as having them in front of us? Probably not. But is it better than nothing? Absolutely. Our staff has gone above and beyond.”

Board president Ray Hill asked what students who don’t have access to the internet can do so they can participate in the online classes.

Harvey said the district’s internet has been made public and people can access it from the parking lots at the schools. The Oxford-Lafayette County Public Library as the same option available as does the Lafayette County Business Complex.

“We’re still looking at options,” he said. “But if that doesn’t work for some, parents can email me and we’ll get you to the school. We’ll follow (CDC) guidelines but we can work it out.”

As of Monday, Harvey said construction continues on the new Central Elementary School and the Fine Arts building at the high school and completion dates have not changed.

“However, if we have a positive (COVID-19) test for someone onsite, you’re looking at a two-week shutdown,” he said. “And that’s probably coming. I’m more worried about the elementary school than the fine arts building. We’ll have to have some conversations and may have to do something different at Bramlett, but we will transition into the new school as soon as we’re able to.”

Harvey said any changes will be announced to the public and parents using the school’s website, social media sites, text messages and emails.

A special-called meeting has been scheduled for the OSD Board on April 9.

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