The Pontotoc City School District Board of Trustees met August 04, 2021 to review recent health-related guidance and current policies and plans as well as to make decisions concerning students’ return to school. Administrators, in the last two weeks, have adjusted plans regarding their back-to-school gatherings, including the district’s new teacher orientation, opening convocation, and guest speaker venue to allow for greater social distancing.
The district had planned to return to school with face coverings recommended. However, recent changes in the guidance from CDC, MSDH, and MHSAA concerning quarantines, virtual school, and game/contest forfeiture forced the Pontotoc City School District to review and revise its policies in regards to COVID-19 and face coverings accordingly. Face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, for all students and staff while indoors and on buses will be required as school begins for students. This policy was enacted in an effort to limit quarantines so students and staff may remain on campus.
Close contacts of positive individuals must be quarantined unless both individuals were wearing masks or the close contact was vaccinated. If both the positive individual and the close contacts were masked, the close contacts may remain at school.
Per MHSAA, if quarantines cause the entire school to be virtual (due to excessive staff or student quarantines), athletic teams and other school activities like band, cheer, and choir must forfeit the contests or games during the time the school is virtual. The games and contests cannot be rescheduled or made up.
This preventative measure was not taken lightly. After careful discussion of the implications of student and staff quarantines on academics, athletics, and extra-curricular activities, the Board of Trustees and Superintendent Bivens determined face coverings were the best option for the time. However, Dr. Bivens states, “The Board of Trustees and I have committed to review the CDC, MSDH, and MHSAA guidance at each of our regular meetings at a minimum. As soon as the face covering requirement can be safely rescinded, the district will do so.”
In the meantime, teachers are encouraged to take students outdoors for breaks or instruction so that students have breaks from wearing masks during the school day.