After seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases at Petal High School, officials from the Petal School District have decided to switch that school to a hybrid schedule starting Oct. 20 and lasting for the next five weeks, leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.
During the hybrid learning schedule - which is part of the school district’s Return to School Plan - students will alternate taking turns between attending the campus and learning virtually from home. Students will be assigned to Team A or Team B, depending on the alphabet.
“One team will be present in school one day while the other team is learning from home, and then they’ll flip-flop the next day,” school district superintendent Matt Dillon said. “So every other day, they will be present at school, and the teachers will be preparing lessons that are for two days.
“With our Chromebook devices, they can download lessons so that students can access those lessons offline, so you don’t have to have Internet capability at home to be able to complete your work. We’ll reevaluate at (Thanksgiving), based on numbers, what direction we’re going to go moving forward.”
The hybrid schedule is expected to allow the school to provide a full 6 feet of social distancing in classrooms at all times, as well as reduce quarantining of students. In-season athletic and performing art teams will continue to perform and compete as allowed by guidelines from the Mississippi Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
“I know our teachers have prepared for this, knowing we might have to go to this schedule, because this was one of our immediate backup plans in the event that we had to go to a different schedule,” Dillon said. “So in the back of their mind, they were preparing this all along and trying to be ready for this moment in case it came. Now we’re at that point.”
Dillon said although there were a few positive cases at the high school, the real challenge is the amount of students that may need to go into quarantine.
“With every positive at the school in the secondary level, you have to quarantine (anyone who has had) close contact,” Dillon said. “So that has really put us in a position where students are having to be quarantined for 14 days, and it’s really challenging to see that they get a good education from that standpoint.
“So we feel like this will be a better plan for all of our students. This won’t impact the students that are 100% virtual right now; they will stay. This is for everyone else that is traditional - they will now transition to this hybrid model.”
Parents, students and staff are encouraged to be mindful of adhering to social distancing and mask wearing at all times. Any parent with a quarantined student is asked to prohibit the student from participating in any gathering - including extracurricular events - until the quarantine ends.
“It’s just important that everybody does their part in order for us to go back to a traditional schedule sooner rather than later,” Dillon said.
Anyone with questions regarding the matter is welcome to call the high school at (601) 583-3538 or the school district’s central office at (601) 545-3002.