Petal High School alters schedule due to increase of COVID-19 cases

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PETAL, Miss. (WHLT) – After seeing an increase of coronavirus cases at Petal High School, leaders have decided to change the school’s schedule leading up to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Below is a statement from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew L. Dillon, which is on the school’s website:

PHS Families:

Since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, we have closely followed, and continue to follow, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) guidelines for K-12 school districts.  As part of our PSD Return to School Plan, we created alternative instructional options and scheduling in the event that circumstances were to change around our school setting.  

Over the last two weeks, we have experienced an increase in positive COVID-19 cases at Petal High School that has resulted in numerous students being quarantined.  Based on guidance from the MSDH Local Response Team, in regards to those changes, we will be transitioning to an A/B Hybrid Schedule for the next five weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving Holiday at Petal High School.  All other buildings (K-8) will continue with traditional scheduling.

Petal High School Administration is currently working with teachers and staff to make this shift, so we can begin our new schedule on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.  All PHS students will work from home on Monday, October 19, 2020, as our teachers finalized plans for the new schedule.  Students will be divided into two teams – Team A (last name A-K) and Team B (last name L-Z) based on the alphabet.  We will work with blended families with siblings who may have different last names in order for them to be in the same cohort.  Each team will alternate coming to school in person, while the other team will be learning from home.  The alphabetical sort will ensure that approximately 50% of the students are in each cohort.

Building level administration will send a text and email via School Status over the weekend to provide further details.  This schedule will allow us to provide a full 6 feet of social distancing consistently in classrooms at all times, and reduce/eliminate quarantining of students.  In season Athletic and Performing Art teams will continue to perform and compete as allowed by guidelines.  

I want to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we make this necessary shift in our schedule.  In addition, I am asking for help when following protocols outside of school hours.  In order for us to transition back to a traditional schedule sooner rather than later, we will need everyone to adhere to social distancing and mask wearing.  Also, if your student is quarantined, please assist us by prohibiting your student from participating in any student gathering and/or extra-curricular events until their quarantine ends.  As noted on the decision making tree on the district website, we ask that you please follow the guidelines when symptomatic or COVID-19 positive.  It will take the entire Panther Nation taking these protocols seriously at all times, and putting the safety and wellbeing of others first, to continue to move forward in a safe and productive manner.  If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to building level or central office administration.  

Matthew L. Dillon, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools

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