Mt. Vernon R-V discusses tentative plan for school year re-entry

Kaleena Ricketts

With the new school year looming, school officials stress student safety a priority for entire district
Much like students across the country, heading back to school will look more than a little different to students within the Mt. Vernon school district.
Administration and staff have worked diligently to ensure that student and teacher safety and health is the highest priority as schools prepare to open their doors for the 2020- 21 school year.
Will wearing a mask be required in the district?
When asked about this touchy subject, Mt. Vernon Superintendent Scott Cook, confirmed mask wearing will be prevalent.
“Staff members will be wearing masks at all times with the exception of teachers delivering direct instruction with a 6-foot barrier between themselves and their students. Students grades 6-12 will be required to wear masks at times in which social distancing is not possible. The evidence provided by local and national health officials is that mask wearing is the best way to prevent individuals from spreading droplets potentially containing COVID-19. However, evidence also suggests that mask-wearing for our intermediate and elementary level students is not as helpful and can be very difficult for those age groups. We are going to provide some alternative safety measures such as Plexiglas barriers in those settings.”
Online Learning
Online learning is being offered throughout the district. Noting that several children had been taking advantage of online courses even before the beginning of the pandemic, Cook made the point that education is no longer a “one-size fits all” endeavor and that virtual learning had proved to be a better platform for several students. Cook also mentioned that it seemed the need for quality virtual education is here to stay even after society’s return to normal.
 Safety precautions
The district is taking extra precautions such as socially distancing when possible and when students are using district-provided transportation, masks will be required due to the impossibility of keeping distance. A daily screening process, which includes monitoring temperatures, will be used to try and ensure students and staff are healthy upon arrival. The custodial team will also be increasing their efforts to sanitize classrooms during the day and in the evenings in preparation for the next day.
When asked what he felt was the biggest challenge regarding the return to school, Cook indicated meeting the needs of everyone was not easy.
“Emotions about what constitutes a safe re-entry plan run high on both sides. Trying to find multiple options to meet the needs of students was difficult. At this point, it seems an overwhelming majority of our parents are ready to send their students back to us for in-person education. However, finding a way to meet the needs of those parents who were not quite ready for in-person education was challenging. The time and energy of our teachers will be stretched as we work to provide a high quality virtual platform. It is now up to our administrative team to provide the time and resources which will empower our staff to become great virtual educators.”
Superintendent Cook was also quick to thank the district’s administrative team and nursing staff for working above and beyond to assist in the creation of the district’s re-entry plan as well as the approval provided by the School Board. He went on to thank the Lawrence County Health Department for their tireless efforts to keep the communities safe and healthy and for their assistance in reviewing the re-entry plan for the district.
-Information regarding other local districts plans for reopening their schools amid the pandemic, can be found in future issues of the Lawrence County Record. Several plans were not definite as of press time of this week’s issue.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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