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Hattiesburg Public Schools prepare for an in-person return to school

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:03 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Public School is preparing for a full-time, in-person start to school on Aug. 9.

Dr. Robert Williams says the district has a safe return plan with COVID-19 protocols to ensure in-person learning.

“Our COVID protocols will be the same COVID protocols that we ended last school year with,” says Williams.

That means in the Hattiesburg Public School District, all staff and students will wear masks indoors, there will be three feet of spacing between desks and heightened cleaning and sanitizing.

The district will be contact tracing and exposed or infected students with COVID-19 will have to isolate according to Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

“We also will be participating in on-campus COVID testing as part of the rapid testing process,” said Williams. “In addition to the rapid testing process, we all sought to engage in the on-site vaccination process. So we will be working with the Mississippi State Department of Health as well as external providers for the testing protocols and the vaccination protocols.”

Outside of the COVID-19 protocols, Williams says the district has other exciting changes he is looking forward to students and parents taking advantage of.

All students are eligible for free breakfast and lunch all year, blue jeans are now a part of the dress code and Williams says schools will be incorporating spirit days.

“In addition to blue jeans, each school site, each school principal can approve the wear of spirit shirts. So that would be school site-specific, and they can designate spirit shirts and school spirit days,” William said.

There has been a lot of ongoing construction work in the district and some building changes for this school year.

“The 6th-grade students will move from the Lillie Burney campus to the new STEAM academy that will be located on the N.R. Burger campus. So the 6th graders will have a new school so they will be on the N.R. Burger campus in a new school facility,” said Williams. “We’re also building an additional satellite cafeteria on that campus that the 6th graders will have.”

Construction continues at Hattiesburg High as well.

“Hattiesburg High School will move into some new classrooms on their campus – the new two-story building that has been built on the Hutchinson side of campus,” said Williams. “So we are very excited about that and in addition, we are doing continuing renovations to that campus as well.”

Woodley Elementary is also undergoing a complete renovation project in a few parts.

“The first phase of that project, we expect to be completed before the students arrive and we will continue to work on phase two and phase three of the Woodley renovation project. In addition, the Mary Bethune alternative school will move to Lillie Burney,” said Williams.

Williams says there is new leadership at Thames Elementary and he is excited for parents and teachers to get to know the principal and assistant principal better.

“Although she is new in the position, she is not new to Thames Elementary nor is she new to Hattiesburg Public Schools,” said Williams. “She’s been in Hattiesburg Public Schools for over 10 years. Dr. Christie Moss, who will be moving from the assistant principal position of Thames to the principalship position.”

Latasha Shaw will be taking the role of assistant principal at Thames Elementary. Shaw has been working in education for 16 years.

Williams says the district continues to introduce new programs when possible and beneficial for students.

“We are, at Hattiesburg High School, starting our work-based learning program. So it’s a very exciting program, it gives students the opportunity to go out into the workforce. So we’re very excited about that program this school year,” said Williams.

You can find the full safe return plan here. You can also find school supplies lists, each school’s schedule and bus schedule on the Hattiesburg Public School District website and in your Active Parent account.

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