MCPSS Employees, Parents, and Guardians,
I am sending this frequently asked questions and answers document because I know this is both a scary and unchartered time we are facing. Therefore, I want all employees and parents to have their questions answered in a timely manner. Enclosed are the answers to questions we have received over the weekend. I wanted to send this out before we begin the school week tomorrow.
Thanks for your support and for entrusting me to continue making decisions related to MCPSS.
Q: With schools scheduled to close on Thursday, do my children have to go to school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday?
A: If your child is sick or has been exposed to someone who has the coronavirus, please keep him or her home. Otherwise, we encourage you to send your child to school to limit the days of lost instruction. Teachers will give students attending school an academic enrichment packet they can work on during the extended break. That being said, we have worked with the governor on a measure that will allow us to mark students who are absent as "excused" on these days.
Q: Will before-school and after-school care be offered March 16 – 18, 2020?
A: If your school offers these programs, they will continue to do so on March 16 – 18, 2020.
Q: What about other school activities, such as prom, sporting events, plays and festivals?
A: All school activities scheduled from March 19 until we return on April 6 have been either cancelled or postponed. Our State Schools Superintendent, Dr. Eric Mackey, has advised that all extra-curricular activities particularly those involving large crowds, be cancelled or postponed through April 30th.
Q: Will the work in the academic packet be required?
A: The work included in the academic packet is not required, however, it is strongly encouraged to allow students to continue with educational access during the time of closure. The work completed will not be graded, but will help students maintain their academic progress.
Q: What students will receive an academic packet?
A: All students PreK through 12th grade will receive instructions for online access to instructional lessons in various subjects. All packets will be delivered to the schools Monday for distribution. Parents may also pick up packets from the schools through Friday, March 20th at 3 p.m. All packet information will be accessible at: mcpss.com/coronavirus.
Q: If I don’t send my child to school Monday through Wednesday, how can I get the packet?
A: You can pick up packets at your child’s school during the week from Monday, March 16th until Friday, March 20th no later than 3 p.m. They will be available in either printed or electronic format. We will also post the packets online at: mcpss.com/coronavirus for you to download and print at home. Technical support for student login access will be available Monday through Friday throughout the duration of the shutdown from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. via the Academic and Technical Support Hotline. The number for the hotline is 251-221-7777.
Q: Can someone other than the parent pick up packets from school?
A: Individuals on the students' contact list will be allowed to pick up packets.
Q: Will we have to make up the days our students are missing?
A: Since the governor declared a State of Emergency, students will not have to make up the days we are now scheduled to miss. If we have to stay out longer, we will communicate with you any plan to make up additional days if necessary.
Q: What about the scheduled PreK testing?
A: All PreK testing has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
Q: Will MCPSS be able to provide lunches for students during the closure?
A: We will be offering a feeding program similar to what we offer during the summer. We are currently working on the sites where food will be provided. Once the schedule is completed, we will post it on social media, and at mcpss.com/coronavirus
Q: What has Mobile County Public Schools been doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus here?
A: We have been in constant communication with state and local health officials and the Alabama Department of Education over how best to prevent the spread of coronavirus. We have had no cases of coronavirus among MCPSS students or employees. Our first step was to remind students and staff of the importance of CDC guidelines to wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home when you are sick. We adjusted our policy of being fever-free for 24-hours before returning to school to being fever-free for at least 48 hours without medication. We have been aggressively cleaning all classrooms and surfaces with a cleaning product called pH7Q, which is certified to fight coronavirus. Our motto has been to “Clean, clean, clean and clean again.” MCPSS was the first district in the state to ban all school-sponsored travel to areas where a State of Emergency had been declared. We know that some people were upset with that decision, but we are thankful that we were able to work with travel agents and destinations (such as Disney World and Universal) to get trips rescheduled or refunded.
Q: How can I talk to my child about coronavirus?
A: We don’t want to cause panic among our children, but we do agree with the CDC’s statement, "Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear." The CDC offers these tips on how to communicate about coronavirus with your child: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html
Several school systems in our area are making the announcement this afternoon to close their districts beginning tomorrow. However, with the concern for child care, I do not want to put parents/guardians in a difficult situation by closing completely until the required date. Considering that the students will be "excused' if they do not attend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, parents may opt to keep their students home. However, we still ask for parents' cooperation with ensuring that enrichment packets are either picked up from each school or accessed online at our designated website.