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School District receives new tech for distance learning, class instruction

Poplarville students will begin using new Chromebooks in their classrooms in January.

On Monday, the Poplarville School Board was updated that the school district received all of the distance learning equipment it purchased using CARES Act funding, said Superintendent Konya Miller.

The district has received approximately 1,600 Chromebooks for students, 150 tablets for kindergarten students and 170 teacher Chromebooks over the last month. This means the district met a December deadline for receiving the equipment so it can be reimbursed with CARES Act funding for the cost of the devices.

All of the students currently have access to Chromebooks in their classrooms, although some are in need of replacement. In the next few weeks the new devices will be distributed to the schools and students should start using them in classrooms in January, said Miller.

In a separate matter, the Board reviewed the district’s restart plan. Any virtual learning student who is not passing at the end of the nine weeks will be asked to return to a traditional classroom, unless they have been advised by a medical professional to stay in a virtual setting.

There are currently 142 students attending school virtually in the district, down from 331 in the first nine weeks. Some virtual learning students are still struggling.

“We’re doing better this nine weeks than the first nine weeks, but we know we’re not meeting the needs of all virtual learners out there just because of the complexity of virtual learning,” said Miller.

Virtual learning students are being taught by the same teachers who are providing in-person education, so they are required to complete the same work and a full days worth of instruction online. Miller said the technical side of virtual learning has been the biggest difficulty for both teachers and students.

The Board also approved invoices for the emergency purchase of wireless access points that will go into school buildings.

The access points had to be purchased under emergency purchasing laws to be received in time to meet the December CARES Act deadline in order to be reimbursed for the purchase of distance learning technology.

In a separate matter, all Poplarville School District students will have free meals through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

The Board approved extending the summer food service program that is providing the free meals through the end of the school year, said Miller.
The next Board meeting will be Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. in the District office.