Traditional learning underway at HPSD

Traditional learning underway at HPSD
Teachers and students use COVID-19 dividers at Hawkins Elementary School. (Source: WDAM)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Public School District began traditional learning on Nov. 2. The schools did offer a continued virtual learning opt-out option.

Superintendent Robert Williams said about 80% of students are back in the classrooms.

In those classrooms, Williams said there are strict COVID-19 precautions.

“Cleaning sanitizing, disinfecting, also providing classroom barriers or shields for both staff and students," Williams said. "Of course, safety is our number one concern.”

To keep families and staff informed and safe, the district is posting a weekly report of COVID-19 cases and potential exposures on its website. For the week of Nov. 2 through Nov. 6, the district reported one positive staff case and two positive student cases. Anyone in close contact with those cases was informed and asked to quarantine.

“And as a superintendent sending out the COVID notification letter, I feel one way," Williams said. “But when you receive that letter as a parent, that does naturally, ’OK, is it safe for the child to be in school?'"

Williams said safety is still his number one concern, and that’s why schools are actively monitoring COVID-19 policies.

“We look at the protocols we have in place, working to maximize the distance between students, continuing to follow up with staff and students to make sure they have their mask on at all times, making sure our cleaning protocols are being adhered to,” Williams said.

Williams said students are excited to be back in school and he hopes they can continue to keep the classrooms safe. The district continues to adapt and work with staff and students to maintain a safe learning environment.

"We’ve recently added an additional layer of cleaning and sanitizing beyond what the teacher would do on a normal basis, beyond what the custodian would do on a regular basis,” Williams said.

Williams also emphasized that while the district and schools are doing their part to keep campuses safe, students and staff are responsible for following health guidelines outside the classroom.

“We’re also asking that when students go home, when staff members go home, that they continue to make good decisions about their surroundings and protect themselves by continuing to wear their mask when in the presence of others, and wash their hands, and adhere to all the safety protocols as well,” Williams said.

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