Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Superintendent Eddie Peasant, right, updates the Board of Trustees at Tuesday's meeting on the numbers of students learning remotely versus in-person after two weeks of school. About 2,200 students chose remote learning and 2,765 chose in-person, but 130 students who attended SOCSD schools last year did not sign up for classes at all this year, Peasant said. Photo by: Tess Vrbin/Dispatch Staff
September 9, 2020 10:36:57 AM
About 130 students who were in the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District last year did not register for classes this year and have not responded to the district's attempts to contact them, Superintendent Eddie Peasant said Tuesday at a board of trustees meeting.
"We're in the process of trying to communicate with those students and their families, and they're across all grades, but obviously more in secondary, so we're trying to find out what's going on," Peasant said.
Now that school has been in session for two weeks, the district has 2,765 students in a traditional in-person learning environment and roughly 2,200 in virtual learning or a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning, he said. School did not start until Aug. 24 so teachers could prepare for a sizable percentage of the student population to learn remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which forced schools to close from March to May.
Last week, three students in SOCSD were COVID-positive, but that number is now down to one, and the number of students in quarantine has gone up from 10 to 19, Peasant told the board. Nine of those 19 students came into close contact with a COVID-positive person in the school buildings, and the other 10 contacted the district to confirm they had been in close contact elsewhere. Three of the quarantined students were in close contact with an employee who tested positive Monday for COVID-19, Peasant said.
SOCSD will update its website today to reflect the most recent data.
"The teachers are doing an incredible job because these numbers, considering (2,765 students in person), are incredibly low," said Wesley Gordon, the board's assistant secretary. "I know this past weekend was a holiday and things can change in an instant."
Families with children in virtual learning environments had the opportunity last week to meet with tech support staff in person to address issues with online learning, and about 80 families participated, said Leanne Long, SOCSD's director of instructional technology and distance learning.
The district will continue to host weekly in-person tech support sessions, requiring social distancing and protective face coverings but not requiring appointments, throughout September, according to the calendar on the SOCSD website.
Additionally, the district received approval Monday for its requested $1.6 million in grant funding from the Mississippi Department of Education to help buy 4,200 Chromebooks for grades 2-12 and 500 laptops for teachers, which the board of trustees approved in August.
The state Legislature passed the Equity in Distance Learning Act in June, authorizing the use of $150 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to provide every student in the state with a laptop or tablet. SOCSD will match the $1.6 million grant with $600,000 for a total of $2.2 million.
Students in grades Pre-K through 1 will receive iPads the district already has, Long said in August.
1. Witnesses describe deception, push for 'obedience' from Second Baptist pastor STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
2. City converts all debt to private, risking credit rating, transparency COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Building on increased arrests and seizures, joint drug task force to continue COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY