Wednesday, August 17, 2022

OSD Likely to Return to Full In-Person Learning

The Oxford School District will likely return to in-person learning as its primary teaching mode for the 2021-2022 school year.

Superintendent Bradley Roberson spoke to the OSD Board of Trustees Monday about the status of the state and school districts’ Return to Learn Plans.

On June 17, the Mississippi Department of Education released its policy for a first reading among the state school districts to seek input on its policy. The first line of the proposed policy reads “All districts shall resume providing face-to-face, in-person instruction as their primary mode of teaching.

“Their intention is for everyone to be back in school,” Roberson said.

Under the proposed policies, districts that offer a virtual option for individual students must adopt local board-approved policies that include the criteria for students to participate in virtual learning, requirements for equipment, connectivity, attendance and student conduct, and assurances of equal access and non-discrimination and the delivery of Free Appropriate Public Education for students with disabilities.

All students who take part in virtual learning will be required to take statewide assessments on campus.

Districts must ensure any virtual learning days include actual teaching for a minimum of 330 minutes, as state law requires.

“That’s students in front of devices all day long,” Roberson said.

The Mississippi High School Activities has stated that any student who is enrolled in virtual learning will be considered as home-schooled and will not be able to take part in after-school activities such as band, choir, theater and all sports.

“Based on all of that and conversations I’ve had with surrounding superintendents, I see no reason why we should not return to school in full capacity, face-to-face learning,” he said.

Roberson said masks will likely not be required.

“What I feel should happen is those individuals who want to wear a mask, they are permitted to wear one. But it would not be required,” he said.

Roberson said he will make a formal recommendation to present to the board during a July 15 work session.

“The only cliffhanger now is how quarantines will be handled,” he said. “There’s been some talk about loosening those guidelines based on the ability to test quickly and individuals being asymptomatic.”

Roberson went on to explain what would could happen if a student tests positive for COVID-19. “Those individuals who were in close proximity (to the student), as long as they are asymptomatic and we’re able to test them regularly, … could remain in school. So that’s what we’re hoping the new guidelines will be,” he said.

Roberson said he expects to get more information from MDE in the next seven to 10 days.

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