Districts adjust policies with continued school closures

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 16, 2020

School campuses will remain closed for the rest of the semester as part of a decision from Governor Tate Reeves issued Tuesday, but Reeves said he still expects students to learn from home.

Reeves acknowledged that not every household is equally equipped to handle at-home learning, as not all students have Internet access or parents who are able to help them with schoolwork, since the parents may have work themselves.

Reeves mentioned that some districts may offer summer or early fall courses for students who need remedial assistance, but none of the three local school districts have discussed that possibility. All three districts are focused on getting students through the rest of the semester, and plan to follow the state’s lead on remedial summer or early fall courses.

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The Picayune School District Board of Trustees approved changes to its promotion and retention policies, along with its graduation policy, at the regular Board meeting held Tuesday.

The graduation requirements have been reduced to meet the state minimum required number of credits and to match state directions on relaxing the number of instructional minutes and days in class for the 2020 spring semester, said Assistant Superintendent Walt Esslinger.

Seniors will have the opportunity to graduate and receive credit for their work. Most students in the District will continue to be offered educational resources, available online and in physical packets, that will not be graded or require completion.

Some seniors, who have already been notified, will be required to complete graded assignments for courses that need to be graded so they have the minimum number of credits needed to graduate, said Superintendent Dean Shaw.

The students in classes that need to complete graded coursework already have the information they need, said Shaw.

For students who are doing distance learning work that is not being graded, their grades for the semester will be based on the work they completed prior to the school closures.

Pearl River County

The Pearl River County School District will continue distance learning as it has over the past month, said Superintendent Alan Lumpkin. The District has issued Chromebooks to any student that needed one and teachers post online lessons for students daily, said Lumpkin. Of the district’s 3,300 students, approximately 1,500 have checked out Chromebooks to use at home.

Students without Internet access were issued a packet of paper assignments that they were able to pick up from the school. Another packet with work for the rest of the school year will be available for pickup at campus offices on Wednesday for students who do not have Internet access.

The assignments that students are working on are not being graded and students will continue to not be graded, said Lumpkin. The work is to encourage students to continue learning during the closure. Teachers are having virtual meetings with students online, using Facetime and calling students over the phone to assist them with class work, said Lumpkin.

A plan for how promotion and retention from one grade to the next will be handled is set to be presented to the Pearl River County School Board of Trustees for approval during the regular meeting set for Thursday, April 16.

Even though buildings are closed, campus offices remain open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and students or parents can still contact administrators if they need assistance with packets or online learning.

Administrators have discussed holding a graduation ceremony, but no decisions concerning when, where or what that ceremony will look like have been made yet, said Lumpkin.

“We are committed to having a traditional graduation ceremony for our seniors, when it is safe to do so,” said Lumpkin.


A plan for handling promotion and retention policies along with how to award class credit now that schools are closed for the rest of the semester is set to be presented to the Poplarville School Board of Trustees on Thursday April 23, and will be in the Friday April 24 update to families.

Students were already mailed packets of school work for the rest of the semester and the District is using Google classroom to offer enrichment activities for students with Internet access, said Superintendent Konya Miller. None of the work is required or being graded, unless the student was at risk of not passing a course, said Miller. Students who were at risk of not passing a class have received individual instruction on a case by case basis, said Miller. Dual enrollment students are completing graded assignments in order to receive college credit.

“We’re going to do what’s best for our students and we too wish we were back in class, but that’s not the cards we’ve been dealt right now and for the safety of everyone we’re doing what we need to do,” said Miller.

Miller said she knows that the community is eager to know what plans are being made for graduation ceremonies, but determining how to offer that ceremony is still in the planning stage.

All three superintendents ask that families continue to have patience and reach out if they need assistance.

“School didn’t end today. The buildings are closed, but school didn’t end and our students need to continue their educational learning through the end of the school year,” said Lumpkin