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School District Moves to Virtual Learning for Certain Areas

The Tishomingo County School District is announcing that 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Burnsville Middle School and Tishomingo Middle School will transition to all virtual learning beginning this Friday, November 13, 2020. Students in these grades at these two campuses will continue to attend school through this Thursday, November 12, 2020, to receive instructions for next week, to receive learning packets as needed, and to finish up the week’s work. Both schools have already notified students who should quarantine due to protocols. Students in 6th-8th grade at Burnsville and Tishomingo will resume face-to-face, traditional instruction on the Monday after Thanksgiving, November 30, 2020. All other schools in the district and grades K-5 at Burnsville School and Tishomingo Elementary will continue their traditional schedules at this time.

“This week we have had a few positive cases reported, specifically in grades 6-8 at Burnsville and Tishomingo. Fortunately, these cases are not occurring in the school. Like the majority of cases, students and staff are testing positive due to exposure outside of school,” stated superintendent Christie Holly. “However, when we have a confirmed case, we must do contact tracing for the previous 48 hours and quarantine anyone who has met the protocols of exposure from the Mississippi Department of Health and the CDC. Our quarantine numbers will be increasing this week in these two schools due to a few positive cases. These numbers fluctuate from week to week due to case count. We have seen a significant number of students going into quarantine at these two campuses, so we feel this is the best decision at this time,” stated Holly. Basketball games involving Burnsville Middle and Tishomingo Middle have been cancelled for this week and next week as well. Both Burnsville School and Tishomingo Middle School will be sending out specific information about the expectations for learning, grab and go meals, and attendance requirements for students impacted.

The district reports all positive case numbers and quarantine numbers to the MSDH and the community on a weekly basis. Specific information regarding COVID-19 numbers is placed on the district’s website each week. “From the beginning, we wanted to be transparent with our numbers, and we will continue to do so,” stated Holly. One of the positives in the data so far has been the lack of transmission occurring at school. “When we have had to quarantine students, we have not had positive cases come out of those in quarantine. So that means our cleaning protocols, mask protocols, and social distancing initiatives are being effective in our schools. That is congruent with most of the numbers in schools around the state. Again, our positive cases are coming from the outside at this point. We are so proud of our students, staff, and families for helping us with the mask mandate for schools and for their hard work to keep each other safe during the pandemic.” However, it only takes a few cases to force a grade or a school to move to virtual learning for a designated amount of time. “We watch our numbers closely because an increase of a few cases in students and/or staff may force us to move to a virtual learning environment if the cases occur in multiple groups on campus.” For this reason, Mrs. Holly wants to stress the importance of continuing safety procedures after the school day is over. “We want our kids to be able to come to school each day and to have basketball, soccer, and spring sport seasons as well as other activities. To be able to do that, we are going to have to protect those environments. We want to encourage our student athletes and families to be safe and cautious after the school day is over so positive cases don’t creep into our sport programs and teams,” stated Holly. Schools have implemented voucher systems for sporting events to meet the Governor’s Executive Order of 25% capacity, and all schools in the state are still under the mask mandate while on campus. That means, no mask, no entry to sporting events. “We know that these protocols are challenging and not ideal. However, to protect our kids, our staff, our families, and our community, we will do what needs to be done to keep everyone as safe as possible. As with anything, we can become lax when we aren’t in school and not follow through like we should when we see no real impact of having to shut things down or our numbers being low. We need to keep up the good work we have done so we can finish this semester. Our teachers, principals, staff members, students, and parents have done an amazing job. I cannot emphasize enough how hard our schools are working to prepare our learning environments for face to face instruction daily as well as virtual learning daily in clean, safe spaces. Everyone has gone above and beyond to make sure we can have school. We will keep working to achieve that goal each day,” Holly stated.