Jackson County Superintendent Kevin Dukes says parents should know schools are ready to welcome students back next month, but issues like accessing the internet throughout the county complicate remote and blended learning.
“We plan on seeing their children on August 7. We’re excited, we’re ready to see them. Unless we’re forced to change, we’re planning on starting August 7,” Dukes said.
Dukes says applications for remote learning are still open for parents to decide whether their student will choose traditional/blended learning or remote learning, but he anticipates 20% or less of students will choose remote learning.
Nonetheless, with an increased need for technology usage, ensuring that all students can access the internet remains difficult due to unique challenges in Jackson County.
“The way our system is, we’ve got two mountains and a valley so internet connection, WiFi, things like that—it’s tough. Different cellular phone services work in different parts of the county,” Dukes said.
He says that although the state has allocated money for school buses to be equipped with WiFi, Jackson County buses do not yet have this, but all schools do.
Given ongoing challenges like internet connection among other concerns, Dukes says attendance policies will adapt.
“Attendance is going to be flexible this year. We’re trying to get it completely figured out where we can see screen time. If they’re a traditional student but they have had to go home, if they’ve had a dentist appointment or whatever and they still complete their work online and we can see where they’ve done it virtually, that will be them counted present,” Dukes said.
He knows parents still have many questions and he encourages everyone to send these questions to the email listed at the bottom of the Parent’s Guide for Returning to School.