MV School Board votes in favor of temporary four-day school week

By: 
Kaleena Ricketts

Middle school hybrid schedule to stay the same until Christmas break for district fighting COVID fatigue
 
On Thursday, Dec. 3, the Mt. Vernon Board of Education held an emergency school board meeting to discuss the current COVID situation, the effect it is having on their students, as well as another possible change to student schedules. In the end and after much discussion, the board opted to change the high school schedule to in-person instruction on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays, until Christmas break.
During last month’s board meeting, held Thursday, Nov. 20, to a full board room, as well as streamed on Facebook Live, board members voted to move Mt. Vernon Middle School students to a “hybrid” type schedule, where students would take part in both seated classes and virtual learning. Students at the high school were moved to only virtual classes through the week, although students were given opportunities to meet with teachers for one-on-one learning sessions.
The intent of the change in schedules, was to help in slowing the spread of COVID throughout the district, as well as to to aid in the overwhelming workloads that teachers are currently experiencing.
Throughout this entire pandemic, teachers have been charged with not only teaching their normal classes, but they have also taken on the responsibilities of teaching their students who have chosen to learn virtually, as well as students who have been placed in quarantine and, therefore, taking part in distance learning.
There is some concern that teachers are becoming overworked with all the new demands, as well as the added stress of possibly catching COVID-19 themselves. When teachers are placed in quarantine, school administration is taxed with finding their replacement, and substitutes are in short supply.
By changing to virtual learning for the last two weeks, it was the administration’s hope that teachers and faculty could finally catch a breath; and that seems to be exactly what has been achieved.
While teachers have been vocal about missing their students, according to Mt. Vernon High School Principal Dr. Josh Ladd, it has been “invaluable” to them to have had this time to take a break.
 While the time away from seated classes has been beneficial, it has not been without trials.
School board member Justin Bellis mentioned how it seemed some high school students were struggling with the online courses. A sentiment with which Ladd and Superintendent Scott Cook both agreed. This is how the idea for the four-day schedule came to be.
“I believe a four day week is probably one of the best ways to deal with the situation we are currently in. In my opinion, it has the highest probability of getting us to the 18th (of December),” Ladd reported.
Ladd was also adamant on the importance of seated courses going into finals.
The four-day school week will consist of four days of seated classes and one day of “distance model” learning. Administration decided that Wednesday is the ideal day of the week.
Board member Danny Bowling reiterated the importance of health among students and staff.
“Students are our number one interest, with a heavy emphasis on staff directly behind them. We’ve given the staff a chance to take a breath.”
Mt. Vernon Middle School stays hybrid
At the conclusion of the night’s meeting, it was decided by a unanimous vote to keep the Middle School at a “hybrid” schedule through Dec. 18. Additionally, the high school schedule will change to a fixed blended pattern of instruction, meaning the high school will offer seated, in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday; distanced learning on Wednesdays; and back in-person on Thursday and Friday. This pattern of instruction will be in place at least through the remainder of the first semester, ending on Dec. 18. This schedule began Monday, Dec. 7.
 

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Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712
www.lawrencecountyrecord.com

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