Petal School District prepare for a staggered start in August

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - Superintendent Matt Dillon said there are a few changes Petal students and parents can look forward to this year in the district.

The school first released its COVID-19 return to school plan in late June, but Dillon asks that families stay flexible and understanding as everyone settles in.

“We’re going to have to tweak our return to school plan even as we return to school. That’s just going to be part of it,” Dillon said. “As of right now, it’s optional for students and staff to wear a mask. That’s a personal preference. We are going to follow the close contact, we are going to have contact tracing as we did last year based on the recommendations.”

Masks will still be required for everyone on buses since it is federally mandated as public transportation. Dillon said some COVID-19 procedures will still be used.

“We’re going to make sure that when we change classes, we do it in by grade levels in certain buildings,” Dillon said. “We’re going to do unique ways, one-way traffic, just some practices that we found to be very helpful going through the pandemic.”

The Petal School District has a nurse on site at every campus and will continue to monitor and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi State Department of Health and local healthcare recommendations.

Dillon said he is excited for students to meet some new staff.

“We have a new high school principal, Dr. Zach Bost, [who] will be joining us at the high school, so we’re excited about that,” Dillon said. “Also at the middle school, Ms. Genae Keyes is our new middle school assistant principal, so that’s some new faces in leadership.”

Free breakfast and lunch is available to all students this year through a federal COVID-19 grant. Parents are still asked to fill out the request form for free and reduced lunch. Dillon said parents can find their child’s school supplies list by grade on the district’s website.

Dillon said there are a few projects and upgrades students and parents will notice across campuses.

“We typically do summer projects,” he said. “We’ve had some painting upgrades. We have some parking lot upgrades with some new asphalt and different things. We’re steadily working on some HVAC upgrades, some things you don’t see but you feel.”

Dillon said if you follow the district on social media, you have noticed the hashtag #beacoffeebean.

“We’re going to have a book that we’re going to embrace all year long. It’s called “The Coffee Bean,” Dillon said. “We bought this book for every student and staff member. So it’s a big investment, but it’s something around social-emotional learning.”

Dillon said staff and students will read the book and carry the message through the school year.

“The gist of it is don’t let the environment impact us, let us impact the environment,” Dillon said. “And how true is that right now in the midst of a pandemic, and all these other negatives and things that are challenging us every day. It’s important for us to not let that have a negative impact on us. Let us control what we can control, influence what we can influence, and the things we can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it. And this message is going to be something we’re going to embrace all year long and it’s going to unify our entire district.”

The Petal School District is following a staggered start on August 3rd and 4th. You can find your student’s specific schedule in your active-parent and active student accounts.

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