Harrison County superintendent prefers virtual learning option rather than closing

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Harrison County School District is making changes to navigate through the pandemic. Parents now have the option to have their child learn from home from August 23rd to September 3rd.

Shaterika Heath has been there and doesn’t want to go back. Virtual learning, with her three children who attend Bel-Aire Elementary School, was difficult at best.

“So, I was at home being a teacher,” she said with a laugh. “Didn’t know I was able to be a teacher. That’s what happened.”

She’s having her school computer checked for backup if, for some reason, virtual becomes a mandate.

“Just in case, because you never know,” she said.

However, Heath likes having the choice.

“I would rather have them in school due to the experience I dealt with last year,” she said. “I know everything was starting up in the beginning. But because of the simple fact that there are testing and things that these kids have to know in order to pass. I prefer, and I feel strongly, that they work with their teachers.”

Superintendent Mitchell King feels the same way. Last year’s virtual effort just didn’t work well.

“Our students lost a lot of education during that time,” he said. “And we’ve had to do a lot of things this year at the beginning of the year to try to re-mediate that learning loss that our students had last year.”

But as COVID-19 numbers continue to spike, and parents began to speak up, the virtual option was presented.

Forms were sent out Wednesday and are expected back Friday.

“We don’t know if it will stop the spread of the COVID virus or not,” King said. “We’re not medical experts, we don’t have that information. But, we do think it will give us an opportunity to stop, look at and make sure that we’re doing the best for our students.”

Virtual students will return on Sept. 7. King said many protocols are in place, including sanitization, But masks remain optional.

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