COVID-19 Update: Distance learning continues for the rest of 2019-2020 academic term


Helen Peng

No Mississippi schools will have face to face classes for the remainder of the current school year.

Cameron Thomas, Managing Editor

Governor Tate Reeves called Tuesday for all schools to remain closed and continue virtual/distance learning for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic term. The next day, MSMS Executive Director Dr. Germain McConnell sent an email informing parents, students and faculty/staff about the school’s next steps.

In reaction to the news, students wished they were granted the opportunity to “give each other proper good-byes.”

“I often look back on the Friday before Spring Break. If I would have known that I would never live with my seniors again, I would’ve hugged them a little tighter,” junior Niyah Lockett said. “I hate that the school year is ending this way for them, especially since they sacrificed so much to be at MSMS. I wish them all the best.”

McConnell recognized the students’ disappointment with the announcement.

“We know how disappointed [students] are about this decision, but we all know that this action is necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19,” McConnell said. “Words cannot fully express how much we will miss sharing these last few months with [our students], especially our seniors.  We are deeply sorry that these important days in your lives have been met with this unfortunate situation.”

Before this recent announcement, MSMS students were expected to return on Sunday, April 19. However, MSMS still prepared for the worst case scenario ahead of time by preparing for virtual instruction for the rest of the school year.

At this point, MSMS has no intentions on changing current instruction or the grading system. Final grades will be determined by individual teachers. The last day of class will be May 14 and exams are scheduled for May 15, 18-21. AP exams will be conducted online.

“Teachers are trying to decide in their individual classes those objectives and skills that are essential for students to learn and at the same time provide much needed challenging learning opportunities for students,” McConnell said.  “Our primary goal right now is to help all students be prepared for their next academic challenge: college or senior year at MSMS.”

Juniors will move out Wednesday, May 13 through Saturday, May 16, and seniors will move out Wednesday, May 6 through Friday, May 8.  Seniors will also have their pictures taken in their caps and gowns while on campus. Students submitted preferences for days through a survey, but times will be scheduled to limit the number of students on campus at one time. Additional details on procedures will be provided next week from the Office of Student Affairs.

Room and board fees will be refunded upon request. Parents have the choice of receiving the full $250 refund for the fourth quarter grading period or donating it to the MSMS foundation. Junior parents also have the option of rolling the money over to the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school term.

MSMS still intends on having a commencement ceremony for the graduating seniors in July. An exact date will be determined in the next two weeks. Seniors will have a video and photo taken as they march across the stage when they return to move out of the residence halls.  A video will be created to use for graduation activities.

Graduation fees include the cost of the regalia rental, diplomas and diploma covers.  Fees paid for additional graduation tickets and the reception will be reimbursed.   

Traditional ceremonies such as the Blue Letter Banquet and Honors Convocation, which will also encompass Senior Recognition Night, will be hosted as virtual events. The MSMS Summer Enrichment Camp will also be held virtually. MSMS plans on having Tacky Tiki over the summer if it is possible.

Senior Class Officers have also planned on ways to do the senior class gift, a virtual scrapbook and a virtual college reveal day.

“It’s disappointing to see the dreams of my classmates crushed,” said Senior Class President Alisha Burch. “The class officers and I have been working to ensure that the entire experience is not completely stripped away from everyone, and I am glad that administration is doing the same.”

Nevertheless, junior move-in day is still scheduled for Aug. 8.