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The year 2020 has challenged us all to reexamine our beliefs and values about our children, our educational system, our economy, and our politics. I hope we continue examining our beliefs and values while always striving to do and be better – for ourselves, for each other, and for our children.
This time of COVID-19 has prompted many conversations across the country, across the state, and within our MSDB family about what school should look like in the fall. After very careful and thoughtful consideration, we have decided to conduct teaching and learning on campus. There are several reasons for this decision. While I believe every person is doing their very best at each moment, “our very best at that moment” may not ensure a physically safe environment for our children at every moment. We all can only work with the tools we have – we all have different levels of skills including parenting skills. Schools oftentimes provide that safe environment. We have families that may struggle to provide the basics of clothing, food, shelter, and childcare or supervision. Schools are often able to fulfill many of these needs as well. These situations have certainly increased across the country and in Mississippi with the impacts of COVID-19 – loss of income, loss of stable childcare, loss of home, etc. Our current system of life relies on schools and other agencies to fill some of these gaps that families may face.
Returning to campus presents many challenges. This document outlines the steps we will be taking to mitigate the spread and potential outbreak of COVID-19. Please know that we welcome your questions and we will work hard to provide answers. We also know that some of you may not be comfortable sending your child back to campus. We respect your decision as every family is unique. You may have family members who are immuno-compromised, and the risk is too great. We will work with you through the IEP process to continue to provide education virtually for your child through our resources and if necessary, work with your local school district to transition back to services there.
For our campus services to be successful, we need your cooperation. While we say this every year, this year it is of utmost importance. If your child is sick for any reason, please keep them at home. If your child feels fine and has a fever, please keep them at home. Our first line of defense against COVID-19 is in your hands. By keeping your child at home when they are sick, you are protecting every child at MSDB and the staff who work with your child. For MSDB to continue to provide on campus services with integrity, all our adults must be healthy. The possibility of partial or temporary closures due to illnesses, the necessity for group/s to be quarantined, or even the temporary full closure or permanent move to full virtual education is a real possibility. We need everyone working together to do the following:
This school year may be the most challenging year yet. For me, it is a school year full of potential to meet students and families (and honestly, some staff that I haven’t met). It’s an opportunity for me to broaden my perspectives to the various life situations of our families and staff and consider how MSDB can be a support. This year will be a time of great change and transformation – due to our increased learning about COVID-19, our increased duty to keep students and staff as safe as possible, our increased learning related to virtual education for our unique students, and overall growth and development. This doesn’t even begin to talk the learning about other national and world events such as #BlackLivesMatter, the national coin shortage, the uncovering of unwritten histories of people of color, and so much more!
I am glad to be on this journey with you.
Donna E Sorensen
P.S. We made a few small changes to our Academic Calendar which is included on the next page.
P.P.S. Please know that these procedures and options are subject to change based on National, State, and local mandates and directives.
Our District is the Mississippi Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (MSDB). We are comprised of two separate schools. The Mississippi School for the Deaf serves children from age 3-21 who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deafblind. The Mississippi School for the Blind serves children from age 3-21 who are blind, visually impaired, or deafblind. Our agency also includes Statewide Services which encompass our birth to three SKI*HI program and other services that are in development, the Mississippi Assistance Center (MAC) which provides appropriate sensory-specific assessments and recommendations to families and districts and facilitates the Admissions process to both schools, and the Mississippi Instructional Resource Center (MIRC) which provides access to instructional materials and access equipment to districts serving students with visual impairments.
Registration for all students will be conducted online (hopefully – we will send more information when it’s available.) Registration packets will be mailed home for those families who are unable to complete Registration online. Those packets can be mailed back or brought in person. School staff will also be calling families to complete as much of the registration process on the phone ahead of time. Appointments can be made for local families to come and complete the registration process on August 6th or August 7th. Residential families will complete the Registration process on Sunday, August 9, 2020 when they arrive to drop students off for the Residential program.
MSDB will provide educational services to students in three ways.
Traditional Schedule Option
MSDB will offer students a traditional schedule beginning on August 10, 2020. Residential students with their families will arrive on Sunday afternoon and evening, August 9, 2020 for registration. Students will attend classes on campus Monday-Friday with departure at 1 p.m. on Fridays. There are a few exceptions to accommodate for holidays. Please refer to the 2020-2021 School Calendar.
Virtual Instruction Option
Families may opt out of on-campus services and register for Virtual Instruction on a full-time basis. An IEP meeting may need to be held to document the change to a virtual instruction approach as the appropriate placement, further outline the specially designed instruction and the related services.
Students will receive live, virtual instruction from a certified teacher, and a classroom assistant may help students learning virtually through tutoring sessions. We are continuing to work out the details for this Virtual Instruction option. This option will also include Virtual Instruction through a Learning Management System (LMS).
Hybrid Education Option
For families who opt for the Traditional Schedule Option, there may be times when a class or small group requires quarantine time. In this situation, you will receive a notification from the school explaining that a class or group needs to be quarantined due to a positive COVID-19 case. There may also be times when our adult supervision coverage is inadequate to meet student needs. We diligently hope the need for temporary closure or quarantine is not necessary.
For all options, our goal is for all students to be issued an age-appropriate device to use in the classroom and at home as needed. Deployment of devices will occur as devices become programmed and available. Internet hotspots will also be offered when available to families who need them if the hotspot will work as an option for Internet access from home. Parents and students will be required to sign the MSDB Acceptable Use Policy before being issued any device. Students and parents will receive training on proper device usage and the online Learning Management System (LMS).
What is the Right Option for your Child and your Family?
We would encourage families to select the option that makes the most sense for your child. Establishing a predictable routine is important for everyone, especially our students. We ask that you commit to an option for at least a full quarter at a time. We know “life happens” and circumstances may change within your family that necessitates a different approach in educating your child. Circumstances may change on campus as well that may dictate a different approach in educating our students.
Please remember, it is within parental rights to request an IEP meeting at any time to address placement, specially designed instruction, related services, and any accommodations mandated. Once a request has been submitted, the IDEA and the Parental Procedural Safeguards outlines timelines that must be met. Please refer to your Procedural Safeguards for more information. http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/special-education/special-education-for-parents
Mastery of Content for Carnegie Unit Courses
To earn Carnegie Unit Credits for high school classes, students will be required to complete all assignments, projects, quizzes, and assessments. These activities will be designed to show mastery of the standards for that particular subject.
For students attending school on campus, attendance will be documented as present or absent according to past practice.
For Virtual Instruction either as a full-time option or during times of temporary or long-term campus closure, attendance will be documented as present or absent according to one of the following:
Documentation of attendance in this manner follow Mississippi State Board of Education Policy adopted on July 16, 2020 found here: https://www.mdek12.org/sites/default/files/documents/MBE/MDE-2020(7)/tab-02-apa-sbp_reporting_attendance_for_virtual_learning_2020-2021_sy_draft_v4.pdf
We are working with each District that transports students from home to campus daily. Please check with your local district for their cleaning and sanitizing protocols. Please remember if your child is not riding the bus due to illness, emergency, or times of campus closure, it is your responsibility to contact your District’s Transportation department and let them know.
Meals will be provided for students and staff in “to-go” boxes. Meals will be eaten in 4 separate areas – the Cafeteria, the Student Center, the Bistro, and the Rec Building. Pick-up times will be staggered to allow for better social distancing.
Staff will be self-monitoring their health symptoms and not reporting to work if sick and/or fever.
Restroom Cleaning Protocol
When Someone Tests Positive for COVID-19 at MSDB
Sports and Events
MSDB will follow state, county, and city ordinances related to group of people gathering.
1252 – 1253 Eastover Drive
Jackson, Mississippi, 39211
M-F 8:00 am – 3:30 pm. Closed on Week ends
Welcome to the Mississippi Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (MSDB). We are thrilled you found us. Click around and learn more about the amazing things that happen on our campus and across the state for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deafblind as well as their families and the professionals serving these students.
MSDB is a unique agency / district with two unique schools – the Mississippi School for the Deaf and the Mississippi School for the Blind. Both schools work together in coordinating school events and activities, supporting learning at both schools, engaging and supporting after school events and sports teams from both schools, and facilitating all students in becoming independent, educated, and well-rounded individuals.
As you click around, please reach out to us if you have questions, concerns, or ideas for us! It takes a village to raise a child and it takes us and all of you working together in maintaining and improving our schools. Thank you for visiting us here online and I hope you are able to stop by in person when our world is once again open and safe.
Donna E Sorensen