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story.lead_photo.caption The Magnolia School District began classes on Aug. 24 with the fall semester ending on Dec. 18. - Photo by Colby Clinton

“Our community and parents have been very, very patient in understanding. Our teachers, administrators and students have all been wonderful and have worked extremely hard,” said Magnolia School District Superintendent John Ward.

On August 24, the Magnolia School District officially began the 2020-2021 school year, but not without numerous obstacles, the major one being the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial plan, according to Ward, was to imitate a normal school year as much as possible.

The Magnolia School District ‘Re-Entry Plan’ was made available on the school’s website before the beginning of the school year, but has been adjusted as new procedures have been implemented throughout the year.

In an open letter from the Superintendent, Ward announced virtual learning Fridays for the school district to begin on October 9, 2020 and various changes to the school’s procedures to reflect the changes. However, Ward said that changes to the plan were expected as the school year progressed.

“We have made changes and updates to the re-entry plan along the way trying to address student safety and engagement,” said Ward.

Ward said the biggest challenge the district has faced has been the switch to virtual learning for students who don’t wish to attend school in-person and quarantined students. “It has been a bit of a challenge in engaging students in learning and certainly we will take some of the blame for that looking back,” Ward said about virtual learning.

Difficulties for students, teachers, and parents alike have come from the new LMS virtual learning platform, but Ward says that these problems are being addressed and a new plan will be implemented moving forward.

Despite the obstacles, Ward praised the teachers for their efforts during the difficult time. “The teachers have been wonderful to provide instruction for kids who are on-site, in quarantine, and kids who are virtual. They’ve been working very hard.”

“If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do anything differently other than doing a better job of training parents and students on the LMS platform,” Ward said about the school districts approach to this school year.

The school year is beginning to come to a close with the final day coming on December 18. The Magnolia School District’s website provides information about students infected with COVID-19 on their website. As of November 12, nine faculty members and sixteen students have been infected with COVID-19. Cases among faculty and staff are spread around the entire district while most of the student makeup of cases comes from Magnolia High School and Magnolia Middle School. Combined, the two schools account for nine of the sixteen total cases in the district.

Ward says that changes are coming to the Spring semester to make life for students, teachers, and parents easier. “We are meeting right now to make significant changes to the Spring semester to address accountability from students, as well as training for (everyone).”

You can find more information about the Magnolia School District’s health plan, as well as COVID-19 information from the school website.

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