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TUPELO • Tupelo Public School District held its first Parental Advisory Committee meeting on Friday for parents to ask questions and get answers directly from school administrators.

The committee is made up of 10 parents from each school in the district, and questions and answers from each meeting will be published on social media and tupeloschools.com.

New details about TPSD’s plans for this fall were revealed, including potential developing distance learning plans and measures that will be implemented to protect students.

TPSD will provide a concurrent model for in-school and out-of-school learning to accommodate parents who are unable to send students to school. Attendance will still be required, even for homeschooled students. The district’s new learning management system, Canvas, will allow the district to better monitor attendance remotely, and students will still be held to the same standards as their peers attending school in person.

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, a school will be closed for a period of time to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Any individual who tests positive for the virus will have to stay home during a 14-day quarantine period.

“We’ve been told to prepare for intermittent closures,” TPSD said in the Q&A.

The school year will start with a focus on acceleration to try and get every student caught up rather than focusing on remediation.

The district has not made a decision about students wearing masks, but recognizes that some parents will send their children to school with masks and that will be allowed.

Face shields and other PPE will be purchased for staff, along with sound amplification systems for classrooms so that teachers won’t have to project directions to students in a loud voice.

Everyone will have to enter schools via entrances outfitted with thermal scanners “for everyone’s protection,” and six additional nurses will be hired to allow for a certified nurse at each school.

The district will also increase janitorial services and increase sanitizer each day in classrooms.

Arrival and dismissal times will be staggered because “there is no way to have 400 kids coming through doors at the same time and provide for social distancing.”

Lunches will be delivered to and served in classrooms rather than bringing students to lunchrooms, and recess will be held with one class at a time.

Extra furniture will be removed to allow for more space in classrooms and limits on class size will be established at each grade level based on space limitations and social distancing efforts.

A survey will be conducted to see how many students will ride buses during the 2020-21 school year, and routes will be adjusted based on actual numbers to determine the best usage.

Students who opt to do distance learning will still be allowed to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

“Our principals and our teachers are working hard on our plan,” Superintendent Dr. Rob Picou said. “Rest assured they are committed to providing the safest learning environment imaginable for our students. School will look different in August, but I think we will grow through this experience in amazing ways that demonstrate the enormous potential in the Power of We.”

The next meeting will be Friday, June 5, and a report will be released following each meeting.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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