Latest Superintendent Update, 3/27/20
Happy Friday Indian Nation,
Now that we have one week of experience with distance learning, I wanted to reach out with an update on our status. I would like to begin by saying thank you to all of the hard working staff, students, and parents that are making distance learning a success. I know that the first week was far from perfect, but we will improve each week to achieve better results. As with all new experiences, you implement, evaluate, adjust, and improve. We will do that from the school side and I know that parents and students will do the same from home.
The two most important aspects of making distance learning a success are participation and communication. Please ensure that your student is devoting a portion of each weekday to their school assignments by utilizing Google Classroom or working with the paper packets for those without internet access. If your child is struggling with a concept or activity, please reach out to the teacher via the Google Classroom platform, call, or e-mail. Every staff member in the Biloxi Public School District has an e-mail address that follows the format of email@example.com. Most solutions are simply a phone call, video chat, or text away.
For those students working with paper packets at home, please remember that each Monday you must return the previous week’s packet and pick up a new packet at your home campus between 4:00 – 6:00 PM. It is extremely important to include the student’s name and teacher’s names on returned packets. For students that are working with paper packets, you may transition to using Google Classroom if you find a means of gaining internet access during school closures. If not, please continue to pick up paper packets each Monday. Term 3 grades have been finalized and posted. Parents/students may log in to the Home Portal of INow to view Term 3 report cards.
The Biloxi Public Schools will continue to honor our original school calendar. We have been blessed with the ability to continue instruction throughout the physical school closure period and therefore will still take our scheduled Spring Break. April 9, 2020 is a scheduled professional development day for staff, April 10 is the Good Friday holiday, and Spring Break is April 13-17. During this time, distance learning will not take place due to the scheduled holiday. Paper packets will not be available on Monday April 13. In addition, these closures will result in food services not being available April 10-17.
As you are aware, our physical closures are currently scheduled through April 17. Before that date, we will reassess the status of health across our state and nation. We will communicate with local and state health agencies, the Mississippi Department of Education, and the Governor’s office to determine if closures should be extended or if we will return to school on April 20. I wish that I had the ability to predict the future and provide a definitive answer at this time, but we are faced with constantly changing circumstances.
With the unprecedented circumstances facing our nation, the Mississippi Department of Education and the State Board of Education have been very proactive in ensuring that students are not negatively penalized due to the physical closure of schools. We have been notified that state assessments for the 2019-2020 school year have been suspended. This suspension means that students scheduled to take end of course assessments this year will not be required to do so and will have satisfied their promotion or graduation requirements by meeting the minimum requirements set forth by the state and local school system. Most notably:
- Current 3rd graders will be promoted to 4th grade for the 2020-21 school year if the student meets all other district requirements for promotion.
- Current seniors who meet all district and state requirements may graduate this school year. The requirement that students take end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, English II, Biology and U.S. History has been suspended for seniors because these assessments cannot be administered in spring 2020. Statewide, students are required to earn a minimum of 24 Carnegie units to graduate.
- Any student in grades 7 through 12 who is currently enrolled in Algebra I, Biology, English II and/or U. S. History during the 2019-20 school year will not be required to take and/or pass the corresponding end-of-course subject area test(s) or meet one of the options in lieu of passing the test(s) to meet graduation requirements.
In closing, the last few weeks have proven the resiliency of our country, state, and local community. Times are difficult, circumstances are not ideal, but we are Biloxi strong and we will continue to forge ahead. Working as a team, we can achieve the impossible and overcome the direst circumstances. We did it after Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina, and we will prove again that nothing can keep us down. Stay safe, stay home, do your part, and work hard. This will pass, and we will be stronger in the end.
BILOXI STRONG AND INDIAN NATION PROUD!
Superintendent, Biloxi Public Schools