Neshoba high school now hybrid

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Neshoba Central High School will switch to a hybrid schedule next week after a number of students were quarantined under regulations from the Mississippi Department of Health.

Neshoba County’s infections continue to increase as the state reported another 800 new cases on Tuesday. (See page 2A.)

The regulations require a person to quarantine if within six feet, for 15 or more minutes, of someone with Covid-19 even while wearing a mask.

Neshoba Central Middle and Elementary schools will remain on the traditional schedule with on-campus classes.

“Fortunately, we have very few Covid-19 cases at Neshoba Central High School,” Dr. Lundy Brantley, superintendent of education, said. “However, we have a large number quarantined due to the regulations which require us to quarantine students who were, for 15 minutes or more, within six feet of someone diagnosed with the virus even though they had worn masks.”

The new hybrid schedule begins Aug. 31. (See https://www.msdh.ms.gov and https://mdek12.org for more information.) 

School officials will host Zoom meeting one night this week to answer questions from parents.

Under the hybrid plan, high school students will be divided into red and blue groups. 

The red group, students whose last names begin with A-K, will have on-campus learning on Mondays and Wednesdays and at-home virtual learning on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The blue group, students whose last names begin with L-Z, will have at-home virtual learning on Mondays and Wednesdays and on-campus learning on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

All high school students will have at-home virtual learning on Fridays.

The Canvas platform, which students are familiar with, will be utilized for virtual learning.

“When students have virtual learning days, they must log into Canvas through Clever to be counted present for that day,” Dr. Brantley said. “Students will participate through Canvas at the designated class times daily. School time is 8 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. each day.”

Students attending band, football, dance, cheer, basketball, softball and baseball on their at-home virtual learning days will come to campus at their designated times, report directly to their coach/sponsor and have temperatures checked daily.

Faculty and staff will be on campus all five days.

A recent survey revealed that more than 40 percent of the high school students at Neshoba do not have access to high-speed Internet.

Students who do not have Internet access at home will be able to download the next day’s lessons on their own personal devices while at school and work “offline” the following day.

A school-issued device will be given those students who don’t have one at home. 

 “Attendance will be taken as students log in each day and complete assignments and as normal when they are at in-person classes,” Dr. Brantley said. “The Canvas platform that we have is time-stamped to show how long the student worked.

 “The hybrid plan will allow us to distance students more in classrooms therefore allowing us to quarantine an exponentially less numbers of students,” he said. “The class schedule for distance learning will be posted on the Neshoba Central website and also given to students.”

High School Principal Gentry said the hybrid plan is the way to go in order to limit the number of students being quarantined.

“I think we have had a great two-and-a-half weeks but it’s been a lot of trial and error,” he said. “We’ve had many kids out quarantined and, under the new regulations, it’s going to continue that way unless we go hybrid. At this point, we are not saying we will do this the rest of the year. It might be better at the end of the nine weeks or the first semester, but we just don’t know. 

“We’ve got to do something to protect our kids, our staff and their instructional times as well as their sports and other activities. We’ve got to be rolling on the days students are here to make up for when they are at home.”

Gentry expects the red and blue groups to be pretty evenly divided, noting that one class of 30 that he looked at “just so happened to have 15 in red and 15 in blue. That really helps us out with social distancing.”

Last week, Neshoba Central High School had four Covid-19 cases with 32 additional students quarantined out of almost 1,000 students. There were nine district-wide cases last week out of more than 3,300 students, teachers and other personnel.

All of Neshoba’s positive cases were from community/family transmission and 30 of the overall district’s 49 quarantined were from community/family transmission.

“Our instances are very low but our quarantine is high,” Brantley said. “We have had the hybrid schedule in our plans from the beginning of the pandemic.”

Gentry thinks the timing is right to switch to hybrid.

“I think this is best right now. I honestly do. We could have 75 to 100 kids quarantined if one high school teacher is out with the virus,” he said.

Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs, Mississippi State Health Officer, told the state medical association last week that a lot of the outbreaks being seen at high schools across the state stemmed from parents hosting parties for students, such as senior parties and spend-the-night parties, which he adamantly opposes.

For the 2020-21 school year, Mississippi school districts may choose one or more of three scheduling options for operating schools: traditional, virtual or a hybrid of in-person and distance learning. The types of schedules may vary among schools in the same district to meet the different learning needs of students in elementary, middle and high school.


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