Oxford School District pushes back start of 2020-21 school year

Oxford School District pushes back start of new school year

OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - Oxford School District announced Wednesday it would delay the start of the new school year.

In an email to parents, Superintendent Brian Harvey said the Board of Trustees voted in favor of pushing the start date back to Aug. 24 with teachers returning Aug. 17. The year was originally set to begin Aug. 10 with a staggered schedule.

“We have wrestled with this decision for several days as numerous parents have requested a transition to virtual learning for their students at a rapidly increasing pace,” reads Harvey’s message.

The district says it’s received more than 300 requests since the July 10 deadline to switch from face-to-face instruction to online learning.

“By delaying, I feel that we have a better chance of staying in school long term with healthy staff and students,” writes Harvey.

Oxford adjusted its academic calendar to meet the 180-day requirement, which means the end of the year is now May 28, 2021.

“The reality is some teachers are reluctantly returning to classrooms, and many of our parents are reluctantly sending their children as positivity rates for COVID-19 continue to climb in our state and in our community,” write Harvey. “I sincerely appreciate your support as we continue to navigate this unknown season. We’ll get through this together.”

Find the district’s reopening plan and academic calendar on Oxford School District’s website.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves ordered mandatory face masks for students and staff inside all Mississippi schools.

Masks required in all Mississippi schools

Read Oxford Superintendent Brian Harvey’s complete message below:

Dear Oxford Parents,

This afternoon, the OSD Board of Trustees has voted (with a 3 to 2 vote) in favor to delay the return of students in the Oxford School District until Monday, August 24. Teachers will return to their classrooms on August 17.

We have wrestled with this decision for several days as numerous parents have requested a transition to virtual learning for their students at a rapidly increasing pace. More than 300 requests wishing to change from face-to-face instruction to online learning from home since the deadline on July 10th. We were prepared to accommodate those families who chose virtual learning by the deadline.

By delaying, I feel that we have a better chance of staying in school long term with healthy staff and students.

We have adjusted the 2020-2021 Academic Calendar on our website to reflect these changes to meet the 180-day requirement and ending on May 28, 2021. MDE must provide for a waiver to reduce the 180-day requirement, but at this time, MDE has not granted those requests.

In March, I committed to protecting the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. That commitment includes adequately preparing our teachers to return to the classroom during a pandemic and it requires training on new safety protocols and training in a new digital teaching environment. Both are essential to providing a safe, healthy learning environment for our students.

The reality is some teachers are reluctantly returning to classrooms, and many of our parents are reluctantly sending their children as positivity rates for Covid-19 continue to climb in our state and in our community.

I sincerely appreciate your support as we continue to navigate this unknown season.

We'll get through this together.

Brian Harvey, Superintendent

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