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PRC approves graduation, promotion plan

During Thursday’s Pearl River School District’s Board of Trustees meeting, the Board discussed how to move forward after Governor Tate Reeves’ announcement on Wednesday that schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Only nine people physically attended the meeting while board member Christian Burge and other administrators were present virtually via the Zoom app.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin presented his superintendent’s report stating that the distance learning protocols the school already had in place would remain the same.

The online resources the district provided would continue along with the option for parents to pick up a physical packet of the educational resources, which Lumpkin said would be available for pick up April 22.

The packets cover all academic classes and parents can pick them up outside of their child’s school office.

The packets serve as an alternative to online learning for families who don’t have Internet access.

The district will also continue its student feeding program two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays across three locations, according to previous coverage.

Lumpkin said that on average, 1,200 meals were distributed on those days to community members.

The Board also approved a motion to give all students in the district credit for the fourth nine weeks.

Lumpkin said the district had completed its third nine weeks period prior to the school closures.

The educational resources given to students won’t be graded, but the students will receive full credit for the nine weeks so that normal retention and promotion policies will apply.

“Our promotion and retention policies will stay the same. They will just give them full credit for the fourth nine weeks and average it like they normally would,” Lumpkin said.

The Mississippi Department of Education had previously waived end of year assessments, so all seniors in the class of 2020 will graduate if they meet all district and state requirements, with the state requiring students have 24 Carnegie units to graduate.

Kimberly Alford said that all the seniors in the class of 2020 were analyzed and none were behind or missing the necessary credits to graduate, and because of that the district didn’t have to formulate a plan for seniors who may have been behind on credits.

Lumpkin said the hope is to, at some point, give the senior class an opportunity to walk across the stage.

“We’re committed to having a traditional graduation setting when we’re able to safely do that and recognize the hard work our Blue Devil seniors have put in,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said at the moment the priority is getting through the school year, and once that task is complete the discussion of summer classes will take place to determine how to best fill the needs of the district’s students.

The Board also approved a motion to pay time and a half to district employees who must physically report to buildings to preform their job.

All hours worked must be deemed essential and approved by Lumpkin prior to the work taking place.

Lumpkin said the idea behind this was to reward staffers who are putting themselves in harm’s way during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to make sure the district continues to run smoothly.

“This will be in effect until basically they lift the shelter-in-place order and it might go past (that point). It’s according to social distancing and the guidance we get from the state, Centers for Disease Control and health department,” Lumpkin said.