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By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – The Water Valley School District is gearing up for the 2021-2022 school year with as normal as possible routine for students following the unanimous vote by school board members to adopt a health and wellness policy recommended by Superintendent Jerry Williams.
“We are trying to go back as normal as possible, really emphasizing hand washing. We have all the hand sanitizers in the school buildings, the bottle fill fountains, Williams explained as he outline the health and wellness tips. Masks will be optional, but encouraged. The superintendent also stressed that the district will follow guidance from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).
“If they recommend wearing masks, we will follow their guidelines,” he explained. “They still have not put out any guidance on quarantines for the school year, so we will follow whatever guidance they give for that.”
Williams also reported that distance learning will be eliminated during the upcoming school year, but an online option will be available to students who have a weakened or compromised immune system. This option will only be considered for those students with an extreme medical condition with a medical doctor’s recommendation. Students can also be considered with a medical doctor’s recommendation if there is an extreme medical condition in the student’s documented residence and the affected family members are not provided efficient support through adult vaccinations. The deadline for a student to request the online option is July 19.
“What are other districts doing on distance learning?” Board President Chris Terry asked before board members approved the plan.
“Most are offering this for medically fragile students,” William said. “I found one district that allowed students who had a 90 or higher average in all classes last year could still do distance learning if they wanted to.”
“How many distance learners did we end the year with?” Terry asked.
“We ended the year with around 15 at the high school and around 20 at the elementary school,” Williams answered.
Terry also asked about the grades for the high school distance learners during the previous year.
“They are in summer school, most of them,” Williams answered. “It is easier at the elementary school,” he explained about distance learning. “But when you get into Geometry and Algebra II, it is harder to learn on a computer.”
Other guidelines in the health and wellness policy for the upcoming school year include:
• Daily temperature checks will not be required.
• Students who are experiencing symptoms will be placed in a designated isolation area while they wait for parents to pick them up.
• Facilities will be deep cleaned on multiple occasions throughout the school year.
• School districts must follow all guidance issued by MSDH. No guidance has been issued by the state agency yet.
• Each school will have a full-time, on-site nurse for the 2021-2022 school year.
• Students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles from home. Bottle filling stations are available at school.
• All students will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch during the school year.
• School assemblies, field trips and policies on campus visitors will return to pre-2020 procedures.
• Online learners will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities.