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PRC school board makes changes on face coverings

The Pearl River County School Board held a special meeting on Monday to evaluate the current situation in the school district as it relates to COVID-19 cases and to decide what actions to take for the next steps in keeping schools open and safe.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin reported the latest numbers that showed the following:

Positive Test Result Totals Since August 2:

· Employees: 10 (First Day for Employees was August 2)

· Students: 45 (First Day for Students was August 6)

Current Quarantine Totals:

· Employees: 33

· Students: 284

Current Student Enrollment: 3,442

Cohort Exposures:

· 2 at 2 schools (4 total)

· Possibly see 3 by the end of the night (Monday)

Prior to presenting possible options to the board, Mr. Lumpkin told the board “there are no easy fixes”.

Lumpkin stated the district is facing the same difficulties as everyone and that he had been in contact and had discussions with other districts in south Mississippi.

“Over these last 18 months, we have learned that in-person learning is essential for our students to be able to make gains academically, there’s no question about that and research has shown that. But we also know that at this point in time, that safety supersedes academics,” Lumpkin stated.

He added the importance of “the social and emotional needs of students and employees at this time. That’s what makes this so difficult.”

Lumpkin said “If the district interrupts in-person learning, the community has to keep students isolated, and not much of that is happening now.”

The options presented covered full virtual learning, transitioning from in-person to virtual instruction, a hybrid of virtual and in-person, a split schedule of students attending class on a Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday schedule based on their last name, or amend the “Relaunch Plan”.

The board discussed the many different options presented by Lumpkin and his administrative staff. After many twists and turns of opinion, motions with no seconds, and votes to kill motions that did receive a second, the board finally decided on what was presented as Option 1 with some additional conditions.

Option 1 states: All PRCSD students (6 years of age and above), employees, and visitors will be required to wear a face covering, covering the nose and mouth, on school campuses and school buses whenever it is not possible to socially distance. Exemptions will be accepted for medical conditions and will require a physician order.

The additional language states face coverings are not required outside of school buildings. This will be in effect for 14 days and the board will reconvene on Wednesday, August 25, 2021, to re-evaluate the situation.

The board also passed a motion that states to quarantine cohorts only in references to school closings. Cohorts are groups of students and staff within a school building who interact mostly only with each other. The goal is to limit the number of people anyone is exposed during the school day.

Lumpkin said his staff will use Tuesday as a day communicate the changes to all people in the school district and this new plan will go into effect on Wednesday.



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