JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - Gov. Tate Reeves is calling for schools in Mississippi to keep their doors closed through April 17.
The announcement came during a press conference Reeves held via Facebook Live Thursday morning.
“Now is a time to understand the seriousness of COVID,” Reeves said. “I will be signing an executive order in just a few minutes which closes all public schools until April 17. That will give us a four-week period to evaluate further effects of this particular virus.”
“I will tell you, this is not a decision I take lightly. In fact, in my nearly 17 years of serving the public, this is perhaps the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. The reason it’s such a hard decision is because I know it’s difficult for Mississippi families when schools are shut down. And I also know that honestly, if we have our kids in classrooms, we’re more likely to get more learning accomplished.
As cases of coronavirus continue to grow, thousands of students are at home across the state. More closures were announced Wednesday and some colleges have already made plans to cancel graduation commencement ceremonies.
For administrators and parents, this means more of the new way of education, but some critical questions still have not been answered.
Lashunda Burnett is buying into this new system big time, and she’s ready for the challenge, no matter how long it may be.
“Once we saw that schools were closing nationwide, I kicked into mommy gear and just said, ‘You know what, we’re just going to have to do this,’ “ she said.
Five of her seven children are in school - first, fourth, ninth and tenth grades. Their new classroom, complete with materials from the Gulfport School District, is in their RV.
“We decided to set the RV up as a learning classroom for the children to come out of the house to still feel like they can go somewhere instead of just being inside the house and lounging,” Burnett said. “And this kind of gets them up and ready to learn.”
The school even has a name, which follows strict guidelines and set schedules.
“My children are getting to bond with me,” she said. “I’m getting to see what they do actually in the classroom, and I appreciate what the teachers in the classroom do. So, I’m kind of liking this to see hands-on what is going on.”
Not only are parents getting teaching materials, but they are also getting breakfast and lunch, courtesy of the Gulfport School District.
Drivers with First Student make the deliveries.
“I have to be positive about this whole thing,” said driver Ken Gosnell. “God’s got control of this, my belief anyway. I will not falter with that.”
Gulfport students were given materials and lessons for two weeks. After the planned spring break, they will be given two more weeks of directions while officials evaluate the situation.
“Really and truly, school is not closed,” said Gulfport School Superintendent Glen East. “We’re just delivering school differently today than we were four weeks ago when everybody was in the building. Whatever happens in the future, happens, but we just want to make sure that we continue to say how important that learning is in today’s world as we produce productive members of society.”
East added that all educators are waiting on directives from state and federal officials regarding end-of-year testing as well as graduation credits, and Gov. Reeves assured that teachers would get paid their annual salary on time.
For more information on the specific resources your child’s school is offering, make sure to keep an eye on the schools and/or district’s social media pages and websites.