DeSoto Co. Superintendent preaches patience on first day of school

DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC) - More than 30,000 kids went back to school in DeSoto County on Thursday.

Superintendent Cory Uselton said the district's theme for the 2017-2018 school year is to "raise the bar."

College credit opportunities

The opportunity to raise the bar means students will have an opportunity to sign up for classes taught by professors from Delta State University and Northwest Mississippi Community College.

"Classes that will be on campus during the school day, online classes that our students can take and also we're hiring adjunct professors to come in and teach classes on campus," Uselton said.

In addition to raising the bar, another top priority going into the new school year is safety.

Safety

"We always want to be proactive with our security," Uselton said. "I've got children in school myself and the first thing I want is my children to be safe, and I know that all of the parents of all 33,000 students feel the same way that I do."

Part of that safety includes school buses. Uselton said they are working out the kinks on getting kids on the bus and back home in a timely fashion.

He said while bus drivers work toward a normal schedule, there may be some delays--but after a couple of weeks, it should be smooth sailing.

"What you'll see sometimes in the afternoon, especially the first few days of school while we're trying to get into a routine, is some of the routes are delayed," he said. "So we've alerted parents to that so they're not alarmed if their child gets home later than they normally would."

Uselton said as far as the bus schedule, a little patience can go a long way.

Uselton warned of potential delays for people driving through school zones over the first few days of school. Parents are encouraged to give themselves plenty of time to drop off and pick up their kids.

"Once we get everything settled down the first couple of weeks, we'll get into a routine and everything will be normal, but the first couple weeks I just caution everyone to give a little extra time."

Combating the heat

With the recent Summer heat, school administrators are keeping a close eye on the weather.

Uselton said the heat index can determine if there is recess, band practice, or sports practice.

He said school leaders will make the call when temperatures and heat index reach dangerous levels.

"We try to practices in the morning and afternoon and we try to avoid being in the middle," he said. "We have water breaks every 10 minutes at those practices."

After the month of August, heat is less of an issue, but school leaders said they will monitor closely for all outdoor activities.

Student reaction

Delisa Coleman, a ninth grade teacher at Southaven High School, is excited for school to be back in session.

"It's exciting. Kind of anxious to meet the kids and get to know them, because I am teaching ninth grade, so this will be their first time at a high school," she said.

Some students, though, don't share the same sentiments.

"Eight hours of torture, that's just about it," said Logan Davis, a seventh grader.

Bus driver Dena Swindoll said it's all about attitude and part of her job is to get the kids started on the right foot.

"We are the first people that those kids see every day so it's up to us to really set their day," she explained.

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