HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (WDAM) – Even though it’s summer, school districts are still working hard to prepare for fall classes.
The Hattiesburg Public School District has released a plan for its return for the 2021-2022 school year, and students may see some changes.
“We have published our plans, our safe return to school plan, and it currently, of course, is following the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and the guidelines of the Mississippi State Department of Health. And we will follow the most restrictive guidelines, ”said HPSD Superintendent Robert Williams.
The district currently offers summer courses that follow the 2020-2021 guidelines as they prepare for the fall changes.
“Right now we have a K-12 summer program and we’re continuing June as if it’s part of the 2021 school year,” Williams said. “All the students still wear masks. All staff are encouraged to wear masks. We expect to have some additional flexibility for the next school year.
The biggest change for next year is that virtual learning is not an option.
“I just want to point out to parents that next year all students are expected from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in person,” Williams said. “The only exception will be students who have extreme medical conditions and seniors who have qualified for graduation.”
Certain COVID-19 protocols will be maintained.
“We plan to keep these protocols in one form or another in the future, because even though COVID may go away, we have probably dealt with schools for the past three years, we have dealt with high cases of influenza,” he said. Williams said.
Williams says the plan is flexible and will follow guidelines from the CDC and health experts. Requirements may even vary by school and level.
“We will be taking into consideration currently students under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination,” Williams said. “So we’re going to have, if it stays the same, a different set of guidelines for staff and students who work with populations under the age of 12.”
The district won’t require staff or students to get vaccinated, but Williams says this is strongly encouraged. School leaders are looking for ways to help with immunization efforts.
“We are in the process. This summer, we will be working with some of our partners to provide immunization opportunities at Hattiesburg High School as well as NR Burger Middle School, ”said Williams. “We have clinics on these two campuses, so we are trying to work to provide these families with the opportunity to have their students vaccinated through this. Along with our staff, we also encourage our staff to make a good choice and a good decision for themselves.
Williams expressed his gratitude to students and parents for the flexibility and understanding last year and said he looks forward to the changes coming in the fall.
“Our main concern is to make sure that we not only provide a safe working environment for our students, but also that parents trust us with the safety of their child, and we want to make sure that we do our best to achieve this.” Williams said.
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