Students prepare to return to school amid 5th COVID wave, top JPS educator shares gameplan

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Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 3:51 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Nearly 21,000 students in Jackson are preparing to return to school in the face of the 5th wave of Coronavirus, and Jackson Public School Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene opened up about what lies ahead.

JPS said it will continue to offer families a virtual instruction option for Pre K-6th grade scholars. Parents and guardians who prefer to end virtual instruction will have the option to have their scholars return to traditional, full-day, in-person schedules by notifying their school.

The district has 7 high schools, 10 middle schools, 31 elementary schools, and 4 special program schools.

According to the new CDC guidelines, any student or employee who tests positive will be required to isolate for at least five days, regardless of vaccination status. If the positive individual has been free from fever and all other COVID-19 symptoms for five days, that individual may return to the school setting.

“We will continue to monitor the coronavirus data from state and local officials and make the necessary adjustments to our attendance guidelines,” JPS said in a statement Tuesday.

Perhaps one of the biggest questions for parents is whether or not they should take advantage of the district’s virtual option for their child(ren).

Supt. Greene said he realizes it’s a tough decision that each parent must weigh.

“It’s difficult. We understand all of the concerns. Overwhelming, the belief is that kids need to be in school, scholars need to be in school, but parents have to decide what’s best,” Greene said.

In a virtual afternoon press interview, the superintendent said JPS will renew its commitment to COVID-19 procedures, such as social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing, which the superintendent said had become relaxed due to COVID fatigue.

JPS also plans to implement disinfectant practices in high-touch areas like restrooms twice a day instead of daily.

Effective immediately, Greene also announced the district is reducing all indoor athletic events to 50% capacity.

“It’s the best way to increase our safety and keep athletic events running,” Greene said.

The district will also continue to offer free COVID testing to educators and staff, 83% of which are fully vaccinated.

The top educator said the district is ‘prepared to pivot’ and adjust learning in case of any emergencies.

Here’s an overview of what parents can expect at JPS schools:

  • Mandate proper facial covering/mask-wearing
  • Monitor temperatures of students and staff
  • Provide hand sanitizer throughout all campuses
  • Clean and sanitize all high traffic areas
  • Use mitigation strategies to limit student interaction and slow the spread of the virus
  • (e.g., staggering schedules, movement in cohorts)
  • Practice social distancing where possible
  • Promote and coordinate vaccination events for staff and students
  • Provide screening testing for staff and students in co-curricular activities

The district said its constantly monitoring new information about the virus and following CDC guidelines to make the best decisions for students, teachers, and staff.

All Jackson Public School District schools will return to in-person learning on Thursday, January 6. Teachers will report on January 5.

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