The Magnolia School District released on Thursday its plan to reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Magnolia schools are currently scheduled to reopen on Monday, August 24.
The school district has posted its plans on the district website.
A recurring theme is that the district plans on conducting as normal a school year as possible with requirements for masking, keeping safe distances and virus control. At the same time, there’s an understanding that schools may have to adopt modified schedules with limited in-school attendance, or close schools entirely and switch to on-line learning.
These changes are taking place as the Magnolia School District opens its new Freshman Academy at Magnolia High School, and re-aligns the class structure at other campuses. This includes the newly-renamed Magnolia Middle School (grades 6-7-8), Central Elementary School (grades 3-4-5), and East Side Elementary and Kindergarten Center (kindergarten and grades 1-2).
“Our initial plan is to begin school on a regular schedule, but that could change throughout the year as needed. We have developed plans for complete on-site instruction, a modified schedule, and remote learning,” Superintendent John Ward said in a cover letter.
“In addition, we realize that some parents may choose for their child to receive a complete virtual option for instructional delivery. That option is available, and the document for enrollment is located under the ‘Re-Entry’ tab on the district website.
“We realize that this plan is not perfect; there is nothing perfect about this pandemic. We all want to return to normal. In order to effectively limit the spread of any communicable disease, we need your help in screening your child before sending him/her to school. We realize this is an inconvenience for many parents, but it is impractical and ineffective to screen students after they are at school or already on the bus,” Ward said.
“Most importantly, please do not send your child to school if they are sick,” Ward said.
The following are highlights from the plan for the Magnolia School District. For details, follow the links.
Health and Safety Guidelines
Social distancing will be practiced as much as possible. The guidelines cite a study that suggests that in many school settings, 6 feet between students is not feasible without limiting the number of students. Evidence suggests that spacing as close as 3 feet may approach the benefits of 6 feet of space, particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic.
For all students and teachers/faculty/staff, wearing masks while on campus and where distancing is not possible will be strongly encouraged. The policy quotes advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics: “When developing policy regarding the use of cloth face coverings by students or school staff, school districts and health advisors should consider whether the use of cloth face coverings is developmentally appropriate and feasible and whether the policy can be instituted safely. If not developmentally feasible, which may be the case for younger students, and cannot be done safely, schools may choose to not require their use when physical distancing measures can be effectively implemented. School staff and older students (middle or high school) may be able to wear cloth face coverings safely and consistently and should be encouraged to do so.”
Each class will have scheduled restroom times.
There will be no planned assemblies. If an assembly is absolutely necessary, only one grade level will be allowed in the auditorium at a time with students/teachers spread out to allow for social distancing.
Students/Parents will have assigned times to attend Parent-Teacher conferences. Video/Phone conferencing will be provided as requested.
Parents should screen for the following before sending their student(s) to school each day: Unexplained cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, loss of taste or smell. Close contact with infected person (COVID-19) within the previous 14 days. Fever of 100.4 or above within the last 48 hours. Any student or staff member with a fever of 100.4 degrees or greater or symptoms of possible COVID-19 virus infection should not be present in school.
Response Levels for On-site Learning
This is a booklet from the Arkansas Department of Health detailing levels of response to cases or outbreaks of COVID-19 in individual schools or affecting entire school districts.
Campus Visitors Guidelines
All visitors must report to the front office of each campus upon arrival.
Facemasks are required for all visitors before being allowed entry.
No visitors will be allowed beyond the front office without prior scheduling and approval from campus administration/counselors.
It is understood that a Hybrid Schedule may never be implemented, but the Magnolia School District is issuing this guidance to cut down on confusion should it become necessary.
The Magnolia School District has developed and documented a plan with staggered schedules and on-site instructional days for separate student groups.
Group 1: Monday and Thursday are On-Site – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday are Virtual
Group 2: Tuesday and Friday are On-Site – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday are Virtual
Student Groups will be determined alphabetically at each campus in the event of a Hybrid Schedule.
Group 1: Students whose last names begin A-L
Group 2: Students whose last names begin M-Z
Households and siblings will be considered among campuses, and a Change of Group form for adjusting according to those considerations will be provided.
During On-Site Instruction, students will receive instruction that will allow them to successfully complete the assignments provided during their Virtual days. Students will be provided directions and time to download the materials necessary to successfully complete the Assignments provided during their Virtual days so that internet access requirements are minimal.
Attendance may be collected through the use of Zoom videos, completion of assignments, or other communication methods (email, phone call, or Teams check-in).
If students need additional help, live support may be available from teachers, counselors, media specialists, and administrators.
Students are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering at all times while on the bus due to the bus being a confined area where physical distancing is not feasible. There may be exceptions for students with health, sensory, or other conditions.
The Magnolia School District Transportation Department will follow ADH guidance on mask requirements. If a student refuses to wear a mask, the refusal could be considered insubordination and addressed according to the student handbook. The first step in the disciplinary process would most likely be a parent conference.
Parents should use the current ADH Guidance to screen each student prior to sending the student to board the bus.
Drivers will be wearing a face covering or mask (including cloth face covering) at all times. Districts may need to make special accommodations on mask type for drivers as needed. All busses/drivers will be provided with all necessary sanitizing products.
There will be assigned seating. The same students will sit together each day. Where possible, students from the same households will be seatmates.
Windows and roof-vents will be open to allow for air circulation when weather allows.
Distribution of Student Laptop Computers and Other Devices
Laptop forms will be given to all ninth- and 10th-grade students when schedules are distributed, during orientations or on schedule pick-up dates set by administration. Parents will complete the forms and return forms with students on the first day of school. Students will be responsible for presenting forms to technology staff on scheduled distribution days. English teachers will distribute forms on the first day of school to any students who did not receive a form during orientation or schedule pick-up.
10th Grade: Laptops will be distributed to 10th graders during the first week of school on a date and schedule planned by the Technology Director in collaboration with the English Department Chair.
Ninth Grade: Laptops will be distributed to 9th graders during the first week of school on a date and schedule planned by the Technology Director in collaboration with the English Department Chair.
New Students: 11th and 12th grade students who are new to the district and are present the first week of school will receive laptops on the dates scheduled for 10th grade pick-up. English teachers will direct these students to the technology room.
Magnolia Middle School (6-8) Forms: Laptop forms will be given to all 6th-8th grade students when schedules are distributed, during orientations or on schedule pick-up dates set by administration. Parents will complete the forms and return forms with students on the first day of school. Students will return completed forms to English teachers.
Laptop Distribution: 6th-8th Grades -- Laptops will be distributed to MMS students during the first or second week of school on a date and schedule planned by the Technology Director in collaboration with the Literacy Instructional Facilitator.
New Students: New students who enter the district after the first day of school will present completed forms to office staff, who will submit forms to technology staff. The assigned laptop will be dropped off at the MMS office.
Central Elementary (3-5) Forms: Laptop liability and laptop check out forms will be distributed to all 3rd -5th grade students in their Back to School packets distributed during Meet the Teacher or on the first day of school. Parents will complete the forms and return them with students to homeroom teachers. Students new to the district will receive laptop forms in their welcome packets.
Laptop Assignment: 3rd-5th Grades -- Laptop carts will be assigned to each homeroom class. Homeroom teachers will assign a computer (number) to their homeroom students. Students will take their assigned computers from the cart each morning during homeroom and transport their assigned computers to each class as they travel throughout the day. They will return the computers to homeroom carts for charging at the end of each school day.
Laptop Check-Out: 3rd-5th Grades -- In case of a full closure, students will be allowed to check out their assigned laptops to take home. Students must have both liability and check out forms on file with their homeroom teachers. Laptops will be checked out in homeroom classes by homeroom teachers, who will maintain records of laptops. Students will receive a laptop and charger during the checkout process. Laptops and chargers must be returned to homeroom teachers immediately upon return to on-site instruction. Students who do not return laptops within the first three days of return to on-site instruction should be reported to administration for a further attempt to collect devices.
East Side Elementary (K-2) Forms: Device liability and check out forms will be distributed to all K-2nd grade students in their Back to School packets distributed during Meet the Teacher or on the first day of school. Parents will complete the forms and return them with students to homeroom teachers.
Device Assignment: K-2nd Grades -- Device stations will be assigned to each homeroom class. Homeroom teachers will assign a device (number) to each homeroom student. Students will only use their assigned devices throughout the day.
In case of a full closure, students will be allowed to check out their assigned devices to take home. Students must have both liability and check out forms on file with their homeroom teachers. Devices will be checked out by homeroom teachers, who will maintain records of issued devices. Students will receive a device and a charger during the checkout process. Devices and chargers must be returned to homeroom teachers immediately upon return to on-site instruction. Students who do not return devices within the first three days of return to on-site instruction should be reported to administration for a further attempt to collect devices.
Blended Learning means students will be on-site for a normal school day; however, while in their traditional classroom setting, a large portion of their instruction and work will be completed on their MSD issued laptops. The purpose of Blended Learning is to prepare students in the event of a mandated Closure or Hybrid Schedule. This will ensure that students are ready for an online learning experience at home.
Blended learning (on-site) is a combination of face-to-face instruction along with online instruction in the classroom. The main mode of delivery will still be face-to-face instruction. However, while in the classroom, students will complete most of their assignments in the Magnolia School District’s Learning Management System (LMS).
Question and Answers
Will elementary students have Art, Music, Library, and PE?
Students will have pullout classes (Art, Music, Library, and PE). Except for PE, teachers will go to the classrooms to deliver instruction. Library classes will depend on the ADH guidelines in effect at that time.
How will unfinished learning from last spring be addressed?
Students in grades K-10 will be administered diagnostic assessments to determine individual learning gaps. Students will be provided with supports based on their needs. All courses will address unfinished learning by including priority standards that were not taught from the previous course.
Will MSD offer a Virtual School option?
For information about possible Virtual options, contact Kristal McDonald at the District Annex. (870) 234-7651 email@example.com
What is the school's back-up plan for education if the school has to be closed, whether for a few days or weeks?
Unless MDS is directed otherwise by state authorities, online learning will be provided during times of school closure. Since the district will have blended learning for students who physically attend school, the transition to online learning will be easier if schools must be closed to on-site instruction again.
When school starts will we be able to have large venue events such as football games, choir concerts, band concerts, etc.”?
There is uncertainty as to what those events will look like. When it is closer to time, MDS will review the guidance from ADH and AAA to make those determinations.
Will my child be able to attend concurrent courses at Southern Arkansas University, and will MDS provide transportation?
If students are able to attend, transportation will be provided.
Will blended learning (on-site) be on the same schedule as previous years? Will the children who choose the blended option go to school every day?
Based on current guidance, MSD will have a regular school day. It will be a full day, five days a week. Students who choose the blended option will be on-site for learning every day.
Will you allow students to attend half days or split days?
No, students will attend the full day.
Is there a plan for a Hybrid Schedule should DESE/ADH guidance require it?
Yes. MSD has developed and documented a plan with staggered schedules and onsite instructional days for separate student groups.
Group 1: Monday and Thursday On-Site
Group 2: Tuesday and Friday On-Site
Wednesday is a virtual day for everyone Student Groups will be determined alphabetically at each campus in the event of a Hybrid Schedule. Households and siblings will be considered among campuses, and a Change of Group form for adjusting according to those considerations will be provided.
When can secondary students pick up their schedules? Students will be able to pick up schedules in early August. More information will be communicated at a later date.
The Magnolia School District is dedicated to the health and safety of all students, staff, and their families. MSD policies regarding current concerns such as masks, distancing, screening and other health and safety matters must balance the practicality of performing these screening procedures for large numbers of students and staff with the information known about how children manifest COVID-19 infection, the risk of transmission in schools, and the possible lost instructional time to conduct the screenings.
MSD policy makers must also consider the mounting evidence regarding COVID-19 in children and adolescents, including the role they may play in transmission of the infection. SARS-CoV-2 appears to behave differently in children and adolescents than other common respiratory viruses, such as influenza, on which much of the current guidance regarding school closures is based. Although children and adolescents play a major role in amplifying influenza outbreaks, to date, this does not appear to be the case with SARS-CoV-2.
Although many questions remain, the preponderance of evidence indicates that children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe disease resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection.
In addition, children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection. Policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home.
Will face coverings or masks be mandatory?
Current Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) guidance states face coverings/masks should be worn by children ages 10 and up and by adults.
School districts will consider whether the use of cloth face coverings is developmentally appropriate and feasible and whether the policy can be instituted safely. If not developmentally feasible, which may be the case for younger students, and cannot be done safely, schools may choose to not require their use when physical distancing measures can be effectively implemented.
Adults and students fourth grade and older will be strongly encouraged to wear face masks when they cannot be socially distanced. Some students, or staff, may be unable to safely wear a cloth face covering because of certain medical conditions.
Face coverings/masks should not be used by anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance. If social distancing in the classroom is possible, students will be able to remove masks when seated. Anytime students are out of their desks or in transition to the restroom or other areas, they will be strongly encouraged to wear masks. (This might change with ADH guidelines.)
Face coverings/masks that may cause disruption in the school environment will be removed and students will be provided a substitute mask.
When students are actively involved in a physical activity (PE), masks are not required. Students in grades K-3 can wear face coverings if the parent chooses. Parents will have to provide the face coverings/masks, and the face coverings/masks should meet dress code guidelines.
Will face coverings or masks be provided by Magnolia School District?
Students will be asked to bring their own face coverings/masks as part of their school supplies. If they do not have face coverings/masks, MSD will provide each student with one washable facemask. Bandanas are not allowed. Face coverings should meet dress code guidelines.
Will disciplinary action be taken if a student refuses to wear a face covering?
MDS will follow ADH guidance on mask requirements. If a student refuses to wear a mask in situations where it may be required, the refusal could be considered insubordination and addressed according to the student handbook.
How will elementary students be able to hear their teachers and watch letter-sound formation when their teachers wear masks?
Teachers will be allowed to use clear face shields for phonics instruction.
Can a student wear a face shield or a dust scarf (pulls up from neck) instead of a mask?
Students can wear dust scarves, but the district will have to receive additional guidance about the face shields for students. MDS will update this page when additional guidance is received.
If my child has sensory issues or other health issues, are they required to wear a mask or face covering?
MSD will follow the guidance from the ADH regarding mask requirements. If a student has sensory issues, or any other health-related issues that would prohibit a mask, the student will not be required to wear one.
How will social distancing be practiced?
Social distancing will be practiced as much as possible. MSD will limit contact by arranging classrooms and other areas to maximize spacing between students and teachers to the extent possible. It also plans to amend schedules to conform with social distancing guidelines (e.g. stagger lunches, minimize transitions, teachers may go to students, etc.). Teachers will be asked to remove all non-essential items from their classrooms to allow for the maximum social distancing space possible. Class sizes cannot be reduced at this time.
Will the water fountains be available?
Students will be asked to bring filled water bottles as the usual water fountains will not be available. MSD is installing touchless, bottle-filling stations/fountains on each campus. Other fountains will be temporarily shut off.
Will elementary students have recess?
Students will have recess, but recess may not look the same. MSD will follow ADH guidelines in effect at that time.
If the school day has started, how will students enter the building?
Based on current guidance, students will enter through the main doors and check in with the office.
What does switching classes look like?
Transitions will be unique to each campus due to the layout of the buildings. Each school will have procedures in place to minimize the interaction between students.
Will my student be able to eat in the cafeteria?
Based on the ADH guidance at this time, students will be able to eat in the cafeteria while adhering to the social distancing guidelines. Outdoor seating options may be provided if weather permits.
Can students bring their lunch?
Based on current guidance, students can bring their own lunch.
What happens if my child has allergies in the fall? Will she continue to be sent home?
Students with symptoms will be assessed by the school nurses to determine the appropriate course of action.
During the time of quarantine, students will be allowed to participate in online learning. Will bus transportation be provided? If guidance from ADH allows MSD to provide bus transportation at the time school starts, the district will provide it. However, due to the confined nature of public school busses, social distancing measures will be difficult to maintain. Magnolia School District strongly encourages parents to bring their students to school when possible.
Will students on school buses be required to wear a mask and socially distance?
According to DESE guidance, students are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering at all times while on the bus due to the bus being a confined area where physical distancing is not feasible. There may be exceptions for students with health, sensory, or other conditions. This will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Students should maintain a distance of six feet apart while waiting on the bus to arrive.
Will buses make more trips to reduce the number of students on the bus? No, the district does not have enough buses or drivers to add routes. If we added routes with current buses and drivers, students would be getting on the bus as early as 5 a.m.
Can I walk my child into the school?
No, parents and guardians may not walk their student into the school, but they may walk their student to the school entrance.
Can I visit the school, classroom, or eat lunch with my student? Will parents, visitors, or PTO members be allowed in the buildings?
Under current ADH guidance, visitors will only be allowed in the school reception area when necessary. Parents will not be allowed to eat with their children. Schools will discontinue large group gatherings (assemblies, pep rallies). MSD has always welcomed parent support in our buildings; however, with the current ADH guidance, visitors are not allowed in buildings.
Virtual School Option
Many plans for the reopening of Magnolia schools are specific to individual buildings.
These include teacher pages, digital learning guides, arrival and dismissal procedures, and breakfast and lunch plans.
Click the links below to find the procedures for individual schools.