JACKSON – The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted today to allow school districts around the state to use hybrid scheduling if needed to minimize the current spread of COVID-19.
The hybrid scheduling option is available immediately and will extend through March 11, 2022. Hybrid scheduling enables districts to reduce the number of students in schools each day by scheduling a portion of students to learn online. Hybrid scheduling can only be used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The SBE based its decision on COVID-19 infection data from the Mississippi State Department of Health. The SBE may consider extending the option beyond March 11 if data show it is needed.
“The Mississippi Department of Education asked the state board to temporarily allow hybrid scheduling to give school districts that needed it an additional strategy to help educate students safely,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
Before the start of the 2021-22 school year, the SBE set requirements for districts that choose to offer a virtual learning option and established standards for schoolwide virtual learning days.
Under the SBE policies, districts that offer a virtual option for individual students must adopt local board-approved policies that include the criteria for students to participate in virtual learning, requirements for equipment, connectivity, attendance and student conduct, and assurances of equal access and non-discrimination and the delivery of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for students with disabilities.
Districts are still required to provide a minimum of 180 days of instruction and must ensure any virtual learning days include actual teaching for a minimum of 330 minutes, as state law requires.
To assist with virtual learning, the Legislature provided $200 million in 2020 through the Mississippi Connects program, which provided every public-school student with a computer device to learn. The Mississippi Connects program includes professional development and support from digital learning instructional coaches, who help teachers, schools and districts effectively use educational technology and improve student outcomes statewide.