CARROLLTON – Students return to school at Carroll Academy on August 7, to what Headmaster Penny Mitchell hopes is an “as normal as possible” school year. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to strike hard in Mississippi, Mitchell and the school’s board of directors have created a plan to help ease the unknown of starting school with the risks of COVID-19.
“We are going to go as normal as you can be,” Mitchell said. “You can set a plan, but things are always changing.”
According to the school’s re-opening plan, there are four phases of education instruction outlined, depending on statewide or national orders to curb the pandemic. The CA phase is traditional face-to-face instruction with modifications and safety measures put in place. Extensive cleaning is outlined for the janitorial staff and teachers to follow throughout the day, and students and faculty will have daily temperature and health checks. Access to the campus will be limited.
The school is moving forward with the CA phase for re-opening school on August 7, however, in the event of further restrictions from the state or national level, the Rebel Phase has also been outlined. The Rebel Phase consists of a hybrid of both face-to-face and distance learning. The campus will have heightened restrictions, and grades K3 through sixth grade will meet each day face-to-face. Grades seven through nine will alternate days with grades 10 through 12.
The Red Phase will be put in place if restrictions from the state or national level require only essential businesses remain open. This phase, if needed, calls for distance learning with childcare available for working parents. The campus will only be open to essential personnel and childcare employees only.
The White Phase would go into effect if the state mandates closing schools all together. This phase calls for distance learning without childcare available at the school, and the campus is only open to essential personnel.
With plans for students to return for face-to-face instruction in August, the school is taking precautions to protect students and faculty with enhanced hygiene requirements, health checks, and regular cleaning.
According to Mitchell, the pandemic has made the school’s administration rethink the school day’s logistics from changing classes to lunchtime details to classroom options.
As for changing classes, Mitchell said the school is currently planning to rotate class changes between grades, however, with the various electives offered by the school, there are still some kinks to be worked out. Lockers will not be used this year because students can’t use them and social distance.
“We know it will take a little longer in between classes,” Mitchell said. “We will have hand sanitizer on stands in the hallway, and we will wipe down desks at the beginning and end of each class.”
Mitchell said currently the school isn’t requiring students and teachers to wear masks during the school day, but that may change depending on orders from the state.
“In the cafeteria, we are going to have to tweak some things,” Mitchell said. “It will be more grab-and-go.”
She said some students may eat lunch in their classrooms, and the school is looking at adding picnic tables outside to allow students more options during lunchtime.
Water fountains will not be open for use, so students have the option of bringing water bottles with them to use throughout the day.
Mitchell said the faculty has been hard at work getting classrooms ready for students, and special efforts have been made to promote social distancing inside the classroom. However, the cafeteria may be used as a make-shift classroom as needed for social distancing.
“Everyone will be on pins and needles a little while, and we are all going to have to pitch in,” Mitchell said.
As for fall sporting events, Mitchell said nothing is set in stone yet when it comes to football and softball games. The annual Meet the Rebels event has been canceled for this year, but the football and softball teams, as well as the cheerleaders, are preparing for the fall season.
“Right now, no one can enter until 20 minutes before the game, and the concession stand will be more grab-and-go,” Mitchell said. “Coaches from both teams will be checking temperatures, just like we are going to do before the school day.”
For a complete outline of the schools plan to re-start school, visit the website at www.carrollacademyms.org.