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Virtual learning on a decline in PRC school district

Pearl River County School District’s Board of Trustees discussed the district’s reopening plan and COVID-19 leave for district employees during its monthly meeting held Thursday evening.

Following the approval of the Board’s minutes and other financial items, Dr. Stacy Baudoin went before the Board to give an update on virtual learning and the number of students currently using that form of education.

There are 87 elementary students currently using virtual learning, which accounts for 6 percent of the student population at that campus; 36 middle school students are currently in virtual learning accounting for 4 percent of the student population at that campus and at the high school 118 students are using virtual learning, accounting for 12 percent of student population at that campus.

In total there are 241 students in virtual learning, which is 12 percent of the total student population.

Baudoin said that’s a decrease from the beginning of the school year when 16 percent of the student population in the district chose the virtual learning option.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said the decrease in numbers demonstrates that students are comfortable coming back to in person classes.

“You can see the confidence they have in what we’re doing at the campuses with protocols. I think they also see the importance of in person learning instruction. I’m excited about those numbers, but I also understand there are scenarios where a student needs that safe (virtual) learning environment. Teachers and staff have done an outstanding job providing instruction for those students,” Lumpkin said.

The Board also approved adjusting a district policy to extend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave to March 31, 2021.

The policy offers 10 days of emergency paid sick leave to full time employees if they are unable to work due to COVID.

Approving the extension won’t give district employees an extra 10 days of leave, but it allows those who have not used the leave yet or have only used part of it to use the remaining days.

This change was part of two adjustments made to the district’s school reopening plan for 2020-2021.

The other change was that school employees who have already used the 10 days of the FFCRA leave may apply through the superintendent’s office for administrative leave with pay if they’re required to go into quarantine again.

The change to the reopening plan states, “PRCSD employees who exhaust the FFCRA days, and are required to quarantine by the school district, may apply for administrative leave with pay through the superintendent’s office.”

Lumpkin said this change will be helpful for employees who already had to use their leave in the first semester. Additionally, if they’re forced to quarantine again during the second semester it won’t cost them personal days or lead to a dock of their pay.

“If we had an employee whose spouse tested positive we require them to quarantine for 10 days and that could use the majority of their leave. Then let’s say in the second semester they actually get the virus and are now required to quarantine for another 10 days. They would exhaust their COVID leave. I feel this is something some employees may run into in the second semester that have already used COVID leave,” Lumpkin said.

The Board approved these changes before going into closed session to discuss personnel matters.