HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - While public schools in Forrest County are pushing back the start of school to Aug. 17 after Gov. Tate Reeves’ newest executive order, private schools are continuing to hold on to original start dates.
“We certainly don’t downplay the emergency here or the pandemic, we know it’s real,” said Presbyterian Christian School Headmaster Allen Smithers. “None of these mandates would really change any of our plans here.”
Presbyterian Christian students will return next week on Tuesday, Aug 11.
Smithers says he believes students will be just as safe at the school than elsewhere.
“We feel like we could probably keep them safer in school than we can if they’re out, not in school,” Smithers said. “We can at least have them follow the protocols we have versus them being out and being around doing things teenagers do in the summer time or whenever.”
PCS’s reopening plan already includes a mask requirement for students. It also includes social distancing in classrooms and extra cleaning and sanitation. Students also have a virtual option.
“We do have a virtual school option that we offer,” Smithers said. “Currently, we have about 8% of our parents who have chosen that option.”
Smithers says he feels it’s important to give kids a sense of normalcy during this time.
“It’s essential to get kids back in school for more than just education,” Smithers said. “The emotional development and the things that they are missing being quarantined or just not being able to see friends or whatever, we feel like it’s very important. We look at the mental health side. It’s just as important as the physical side.”
Sacred Heart Catholic schools returned to class on Thursday.
It’s reopening plan also includes a face mask requirement and offers virtual learning options.