TUPELO • The Tupelo Public School District Board of Trustees voted on Friday morning to delay the school start date to Aug. 17.
School was previously set to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 12 – which was already two days later than the original start date of Aug. 10 to allow for two additional staff development days.
“We just want to make sure we’ve done everything we can possibly do to create a controlled environment for our staff, our students and their families,” TPSD Superintendent Dr. Rob Picou said. “And we believe those three extra days will allow us that time to go over a lot of safety protocols and to make sure that they’re in place.”
He said that there are lots of details and protocols for teachers and principals to work out, and teachers have only been back in Tupelo schools for professional development since Aug. 3.
“This is going to be a year like no other year,” Picou said during a Friday afternoon press conference. “Now that they’re in the schools, we feel like the extra three days will give them the time they need to get prepared.”
Picou said the district is still waiting for certain devices and equipment to arrive, like many other districts across the country. One item in particular is thermal scanners to check students’ temperatures as they arrive each day.
The scanners have been ordered and are coming in but aren’t currently in place, Picou said, and he wants to have them ready and be sure that staff members are trained to use them properly.
“Dr. Picou, I hope you know that you have our full support and our teachers know that we support them, our school administrators support them,” TPSD Board President Kenneth Wheeler said after the vote on Friday.
The Mississippi State Board of Education voted on Thursday morning to allow school districts to waive up to 10 days of the 180-day instruction requirement for schools required by Gov. Tate Reeves to delay reopening until Aug. 17 and any districts that independently decided to delay reopening.