Oxford School District discusses 2021-22 Return to Learn plan

Published 11:24 am Thursday, July 15, 2021

With the new school year less than a month away, the Oxford School District is beginning to map out their course of returning to as normal a school year as possible.

During a special called meeting on Thursday, the OSD Board of Trustees met to discuss the district’s COVID-19 Plan for 2021-2022, also called its Return To Learn plan. No action was taken, but the Board held a first reading of the plan and discussed it with OSD superintendent Bradley Roberson.

When crafting OSD’s plan, Roberson consulted plans from other school districts around the state, including Lafayette County, Biloxi, Madison Central, DeSoto County, Tupelo, South Panola and New Albany School Districts.

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The district waited until mid July before beginning talks of how they would handle the upcoming school year with the idea of receiving new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).

“There’s really no clear-cut solution to any of this,” Roberson said. “If there were a clear-cut a solution we probably wouldn’t have all the divisiveness that we have across the country when we’re talking about the health and safety of our community. It’s unfortunate that some stakeholders at the end are going to be disappointed, or maybe even angry, and some will be pleased with the outcome.”

One of the key items in the plan is the wearing of face masks and whether they will be required while in OSD buildings. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves ended the statewide mandate of wearing masks in school buildings after the final day of each respective school district’s 2020-21 school year.

According to the OSD Return to Learn plan, masks and face coverings are recommended— but not required — for all non-vaccinated faculty, staff, students and visitors while inside district buildings. Masks and face coverings are not required for fully-vaccinated individuals.

Quarantine procedures are similar to how OSD handled them with their previous modified plans during last school year, but include new protocols for vaccinated students and staff. If a fully vaccinated student is deemed to be in close contact with another student who tested positive for COVID-19 and is symptom-free, that student does not have to quarantine for the required 10 days.

If a class, group or team of students has three or more cases of COVID-19, the entire class, group or team must quarantine at home for 10 days except for those who are fully vaccinated and symptom-free.

While currently children under the age of 12 is not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, OSD is planning to hold a vaccination drive with the Charger Wellness Center for any students over the age of 12 as well as district faculty and staff. The drive will be held on July 31 at the district’s Family Resource Center next to the Oxford Middle School. The vaccinations will be free of charge.

During the meeting, Roberson informed the Board he had received the results from the state assessment exams. The specific data is currently embargoed, but Roberson noted there was a 20 percent decrease in proficiency in some grades compared to the previous data from the 2019 state exams. The state assessment exams were not held in 2020 due to the pandemic and school districts implementing virtual learning.

“This past year and a half has taken a toll on the education of our kids, no doubt,” Roberson said. “We’ve got a lot of ground to make up and I believe the sooner we can get to making that ground up by trying to get back to some normalcy the better for our kids.

“But, we’ve got to be flexible as we deal with this, especially with the Delta variant. Things can change quickly and we have to be prepared to be able to shift gears quickly if things in Lafayette County begin to change.”

The plan will be voted on by the Board during its regular meeting on July 26.