Q&A Concerning COVID-19
1. Who will be in the District and School offices during the school closure?
Essential Employees will work on-site or at home as necessary.
District Level Administrators, Directors, and Assistant Directors
School Level Administrators
District Office Staff
All other personnel are non-essential. The Board of Trustees placed all non-essential staff on Administrative Leave with pay until the public health threat created by COVID-19 has passed. This includes certified, non-certified, hourly, and professional staff.
2. When school resumes, what should students and staff who have compromised immune systems (medicall
Staff and students should consult their primary physician to determine personal risk level and necessary precautions. Ask for written guidance from their physician about how long to avoid school or work. It may not be practical for physicians to provide written guidance at this time. If not, parents should email the school nurse for their building with a description of the illness. Our nurse will make a recommendation. Staff should consult the Access Family Health Clinic. They will provide guidance.
The Access Family Health Clinic is still open.
School Nurses are not working on site but are responding to emails.
Pontotoc Elementary – Ruby Jackson – [email protected]
DT Cox – Brandi Chrestman – [email protected]
PMS/PJH – Ashley Dowdy – [email protected]
PHS – Mitzi Russell – [email protected]
3. When we return to school, what will be the leave/absence policy for staff and students?
Last night the Board of Trustees voted to temporarily suspend several sections of Board Policy and handbook rules.
The Board of Trustees suspended the limit on parent notes for students. If students are sick, we will accept parent notes for those absences.
The Board of Trustees suspended the excessive absence policy for staff. We are aware that staff may be absent more than normal, and we do not want anyone to feel like they must come to school while ill. Also, we want you to feel like you can stay home and take care of ill relatives if necessary.
The Board of Trustees suspended the Doctor’s note requirement for staff and students.
4. What about student exemptions from final exams?
The Board of Trustees temporarily suspended of the attendance requirements for exemptions. Exemptions will be based solely on grades. Students in grades 7-12 with an 80 of higher yearly average will be exempted from final exams.
5. What about athletics and activities (band, chorus, fine arts)?
According to the Mississippi High School Athletics Association, effective immediately, March 16, all MHSAA interscholastic sports and fine-arts activities competition and practice is suspended through March 29 and until further notice. This suspension applies whether or not a school is open or closed during this timeline.
6. What about State Testing and Accountability?
Dr. Wright has made a recommendation to the SBE that state and federal assessment and accountability requirements be suspended for the 2019-20 school year. The MDE will seek the maximum authority and waivers afforded by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and other federal agencies.
State and federal assessments included in this recommendation include:
Pre-K and Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (post-test)
Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) and MAAP-Alternate English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science - Grades 3-8 and High School
ACT for 11th graders
English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT)
Additionally, Dr. Wright will continue to work collaboratively with Gov. Tate Reeves and Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer with the Mississippi Department of Health, as the pandemic evolves. Should schools statewide need to close for an extended period of time, Dr. Wright will recommend that the SBE waive applicable policies regarding attendance, promotion and graduation.
The SBE is scheduled to meet virtually at 10 a.m. March 19. The public is asked to view the meeting via livestream at http://bit.ly/SBElive.
7. What about Distance learning alternatives?
For students taking Dual Credit Classes and Advanced Placement Classes, we will employ true distance learning. Principals will communicate with AP teachers. Higher Educations Institutions have been communicating with our Dual Credit Instructors.
We are working on a website with resources for parents and students. It there are suggested learning activities you would like posted, please email them to [email protected] [email protected] or [email protected]
This is a great time to focus less on standards and more on reading, critical thinking, problem solving, nature (as the Earth begins to awaken in Spring), speaking and listening skills, etc. Not all parents are equipped to help students with standards-based learning. All parents are able to play games (dominoes, Uno, Scrabble), go on scavenger hunts, watch puppet shows, put together puzzles, plant gardens, etc. Our students will be bored.
8. What about Prom, the PJH Dance, the DT Cox Titanic Dinner, fundraisers, etc.?
- The Prom Sponsors are exploring options for rescheduling Prom for May.
- All dances, dinners, and other events that will require more than 10 people to be present will be postponed until it is safe to hold the events.
- Parents will be offered a refund for the events. They may either have financial hardships at this time or simply not want their child to attend.
- Parents will be offered refunds for other events that have already been canceled like Junior Beta Convention.
- For refunds, please be patient. All of those will have to be done through our Business Office. We will process them as quickly as possible.
9. What is being done to clean areas needing extra cleaning (weight rooms, playground equipment, bus
- The lifespan of the virus on a surface is 24 hours. The closure will help greatly. However, janitorial and maintenance staff will be deep cleaning now.
- Weight rooms and buses will be cleaned while they are not in use.
- Playground equipment will be professionally cleaned now.
- When we return to school, the work hours of our janitorial and maintenance staff may be adjusted so that they can clean after students leave each day. Also, we will hire additional janitorial help if needed.
- We are exploring hot water options for student and staff restrooms. Further, we are exploring hand sanitizer dispensers, both wall mounted and free-standing.
10. What will we do to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year while schools are closed?
Spending Freeze - Each year, we have freeze spending March 31. That will continue as normal. If you have grants, particularly Endowment Grants, work on those purchases now.
Hiring – Administrators will conduct interviews through digital means (Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc.) in order to preserve safety of our staff and applicants.
Requests for next year – If you have specific requests for next year, submit them to your building principal. This would include textbook, instructional resources, technology, maintenance needs, etc.
11. What school related services to be provided during the closure?
School libraries will be opened one day per week beginning next week. Librarians will train administrators to check out and check in books.
LifeCore therapists are still working. Therapists will communicate with parents prior to making home visits. If students need to see their therapist, parents the LifeCore Office (662-625-6220). Mrs. Keona Harris, Children and Youth Services Coordinator, will coordinate continued services for our students.
Grab and Go breakfast and lunch services will be available beginning Thursday, March 19 at the front entrance of Pontotoc High School. Service will be from 8:00-9:00 am. This program will serve all children ages 18 and under. Breakfast and lunch will be provided in each pack. The district has designated this specific area for service, but all students in the district may benefit from this program. Representatives from the district will bring meals to the car. Meals will be provided based upon the number of children present in the vehicle. Adult lunches can be purchased for $3.00 cash.
Our Backpack Buddy students will have their Friday food delivered to their homes tomorrow by our Maintenance and Transportation Staff.
12. How will other assistance be provided to our students?
It is vital that we coordinate services and assistance through the Pontotoc City School District Superintendent’s Office. We are compiling a list of people and organizations who have volunteered to assist our families.
Coordination of services insures that families are not served by several schools or staff members simultaneously.
Coordination of services insures that families who need help are not overlooked.
Coordination of services insures that staff members do not inadvertently violate FERPA by providing student information to volunteers.
Coordination of services insure that all possible assistance is provided.
If a church, business, individual or organization would like to assist in providing meals to our families, please complete the form at the link below.
Volunteer Survey – https://forms.gle/aTGezFcDWnRmswfd8
Parents and staff, if you need additional services or assistance, please complete the form at the link below. Someone from the Superintendent’s Office will contact you to facilitate assistance.
Assistance Request Survey - https://forms.gle/LGvzDSDDMpuRJ3Hx8