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How COVID is impacting Mississippi teachers

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 10:07 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - COVID continues to be the ultimate schedule disruptor for classrooms across the state.

“Many of our educators could not believe we find ourselves back, you know, asking for mask mandates,” said Mississippi Association of Educators President Erica Jones.

Jones says she’s had teachers tell her they’re worried that mask policies are different from district to district. But they are taking some safety measures into their own hands.

“I’ve visited some of the classrooms and I’ve seen these partitions,” added Jones. “Our teachers are so creative, they’re doing everything on their own; everything possible to keep the student in class, and to keep them safe.”

Jones says they’re grateful for the hybrid option from MDE, but virtual still isn’t an option in some rural districts.

Meanwhile, teachers and all employees in the Natchez-Adams School District have a new charge: get vaccinated or get tested twice a week.

“Our latest numbers that showed us couple of weeks ago, that 60% of our employees were vaccinated and 40% were not,” explained Natchez-Adams School Board Vice President Phillip West.

The school board adopted a policy recently, with a goal of getting 100% vaccination status by the start of November. Board Vice President Phillip West hopes it will serve as an example for other districts.

“If we don’t do this and do everything we can to keep kids in school, it’s going to impact our extracurricular activities, it’s going to impact our sports, all the kinds of things that kids look forward to, and we want to have in our community will be impacted,” added West. “If we don’t do our part to make sure that when parents send their kids to school, they will know that we haven’t held back anything.”

They’re also offering incentives for the shots in the form of an extra day off and partnering with the local health center for monetary incentives.

West says he actually wanted the policy to be a vaccine mandate but other board members thought this was the better option. Still, he’s hoping other districts will try a similar policy.

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