Dr. Rob Picou

DR. ROB PICOU

Happy New Year! As we return to school after a much needed break, we want to celebrate our accomplishments in the first semester while renewing our commitment to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the second semester. The first semester, by any measure, was a tremendous success. I am personally very proud of our faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication to children, and I am hopeful that we have another great semester in both our traditional and distance learning platforms. Therefore, we will continue to follow the TPSD School Recovery Plan with masking, social distancing when possible, temperature checks, frequent sanitation, and established quarantine processes that are necessary to keep our schools open.

A critical element of success has been a commitment to transparency. The weekly report of COVID-19 numbers is disaggregated by grade, school, students, teachers, and support staff. We report the number of students and staff who are positive, who are close contacts, and who are required to quarantine in an effort to give parents the information they need to make decisions that are best for their families. We will continue to openly and honestly release our COVID-19 report every Friday.

An additional element of success has been a commitment to options. Although a one-size-fits-all model has never worked well in education, this phrase holds especially true during a pandemic. There are just too many variables that force families to make difficult decisions about how to care for the people they love. From the beginning, we have been committed to a concurrent model of in-person and distance instruction that has allowed us to meet parents where they are and adapt to their needs. We will continue to provide a flexible learning platform that responds to the needs of our students and parents.

Finally, the most critical element of success has been our people. We want to thank our parents for getting more involved in the educational process. We want to especially thank our parents who have called the nurses and self-reported close contacts. Without this assistance and honesty, we would not be able to keep schools open. We want to thank our principals, our teachers, our nurses, our counselors, and our support staff who are on the front lines every morning bright and early to make sure our children have a safe place to learn. We want to thank our bus drivers, our cooks, our janitors, and all of our departments who show up every day for children. We want to thank our students because, ultimately, they make the magic in each and every one of our schools.

As we begin the second semester, on behalf of the Board of Trustees for the Tupelo Public School District, Happy New Year! All oars in the water, paddling with the blessing of grace and kindness: One Single Heartbeat!

DR. ROB PICOU is the superintendent of the Tupelo Public School District. Readers can contact him at rjpicou@tupeloschools.com.

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