JACKSON • The Mississippi State Board of Education waived state testing and accountability for the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19 during a board meeting on Thursday.

The meeting began at 10 a.m., the same time Gov. Tate Reeves held a Facebook live press conference. The SBE suspended the rules to tune into Reeves’ livestream where he announced an executive order to close schools through April 17 as part of increasingly heightened efforts to impose social distancing and stem the spread of COVID-19.

Reeves called this action “perhaps the hardest decision I have ever had to make” in his years of public service.

School districts will continue to receive all funds from the state as calculated by the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Teachers will also be paid per usual, the governor said.

The SBE quickly affirmed Reeves’ executive order to close all of Mississippi’s schools through April 17.

School districts were also approved to operate for less than the 180 days required by state law due to Reeves’ state of emergency proclamation and COVID-19 impact on the state, meaning they will not have to make up days missed due to the virus.

The SBE suspended the administration of all statewide assessments required by state and federal law for 2019-2020, and will request federal waivers from the United States Department of Education under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

State and federal assessments include but are not limited to: 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, U.S. History, ACT for 11th graders and the English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT).

Mississippi’s statewide accountability system was also suspended for the 2019-2020 school year and SBE will request a federal waiver, the board decided on Thursday.

That means schools and districts will retain the same accountability rating they currently have for the 2020-21 school year, meaning if a school has an “A” this year, they will have an “A” next year.

The SBE has scheduled a special called virtual meeting next Thursday, March 26, at 10 a.m. to address things like third grade promotion, graduation requirements and more, Wright said.

Caleb Bedillion contributed to this story.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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