Superintendent Chronicle

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Weekly Update from Superintendent Dr. Marlon King

A Message from the Superintendent Concerning COVID-19

I want to begin by expressing my most sincere appreciation to our stakeholders for partnering with us as we transitioned students back to school. This week, in another sign of progress, we reinstated the traditional 5-day school week for in-person students. Providing education in the midst of a pandemic is challenging, but we continue to show strength and provide healthy environments for students and staff. To our leaders, teachers, support staff, board members and families - I say THANK YOU! Your continued commitment to following the established safety protocols is greatly appreciated.

To avoid breakdowns in communications, this administration understands the critical importance of addressing issues and concerns timely. There was a question raised at the monthly board meeting media briefing around the validity of my comment regarding no transmission of COVID-19 amongst students in schools. Should my team or I ever misspeak, we are not above correcting, as we all will make human errors. My comments on Thursday, however, were accurate and verified - not only by our Coordinated School Health administrator, but also by the Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department.

“From our internal investigations and our collaborations with the local health department we have not been able to identify any student to student transmission during the school day.“

Annette Wilson - JMCSS Coordinated School Health Administrator

“We haven’t identified any student-to-student transmission from any school activity in any of the schools in Madison County. We credit this largely to the joint efforts of school personnel quickly identifying and isolating possible contacts and the contact tracing from this office.”

Wayne Arnold - Regional Hospital Coordinator /Jackson-Madison Regional Health Department

I want to ensure our community that we continue to be transparent and share information that I feel is needed to assist in making decisions about our schools. From the day I started, I have been communicating accurate information around our district and schools. We have approximately 5,500 students in schools and only 2 positive cases currently amongst our student population. This is encouraging and shows the hard work and commitment on both the schools and families part.

“At this time we have not been able to trace any cases back to a school transmission. Contact tracing, cleaning protocols and following the 3 W’s have helped with keeping student transmission under control.”

Annette Wilson - JMCSS Coordinated School Health Administrator

The number of families choosing the in-person learning option for the second nine weeks beginning Monday, October 26, have risen to approximately 7,500 students which is up by 2,100 from the first nine-weeks. Science and health experts dictate that we are likely to have cases in schools amongst our students; however, our low numbers indicate the safety protocols we’ve implemented are showing a positive effect.

Despite the increasing number of students in our school buildings since early September, we have not had to close any schools, alter our schedules, or reverse our decision to offer the in-person learning option like some districts within our region; around the state, and throughout the nation. This is a testament to the strategy that we are implementing coupled with the unwavering commitment we have to providing a safe environment for students and staff.

1. First Shipment of Devices Delivered

The first round of Chromebooks (laptops) our district ordered with CARES Act funds were delivered to the Central Office on Monday. As I previously stated during the September COVID-19 media briefings, CyberSchool students will receive first priority, followed by students in our virtual learning option. Many virtual and CyberSchool students are still receiving paper-packets and other book-based instruction from schools. I saw this first hand during my visit to Andrew Jackson. Laptops and other devices are simply tools to facilitate learning. Our teachers continue to do amazing work in-person and virtually for our students. I will share additional information concerning this shipment of devices during the weekly COVID-19 media briefing hosted by the Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department on Wednesday.

2. Teacher Cabinet Candidates

The process of selecting members for the Teacher Cabinet - an advisory committee that meets monthly with the superintendent - will begin in the coming weeks. My desire is to have varied perspectives and voices within this cabinet. JMCEA has agreed to provide one of its officers to serve on the Teacher Cabinet, as many of the participants will not be JMCEA members. Please prepare your resumes and have them ready should you desire to apply for a spot on this very important advisory body.

3. Koins for Kids

Several community partners have stepped up to assist our school district during the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, I am excited about an opportunity to give back by participating in Koins for Kids. This fundraising effort, sponsored by Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center and News Talk West Tennessee, aims to raise $5,000 in coins for the annual "Rusty Mac Adopt a Teen" program. Start collecting your coins! I'll share additional information about this worthy cause next week.

4. Application Window Open for 2020-21 United States Senate Youth Program

I am a firm believer in our students taking advantages of opportunities. Being prepared for those opportunities is also very important. Do you know a JMCSS junior or senior who is prepared for an opportunity with the US Senate Youth Program? Applications are now being accepted.

The Senate Youth Program features a variety of unique sessions that promote a deep understanding of the structure of our national government. This year’s event will take place virtually over the course of 2–4 days, the week of March 15, 2021. The Hearst Foundation also offers selected state finalists a $10,000 undergraduate scholarship. The deadline to apply is December 4, 2020.

To apply for this opportunity, click here.

5. Parent Resource Launched on Remote Learning Tools

Whether your child is learning in-person, or virtually, I would encourage all JMCSS parents to make themselves aware of free resources designed to assist parents with facilitating virtual learning. Bridging the Distance: Family Remote Learning, is specially designed to help families better understand the common tools and programs used by educators.

“Remote Learning 101” modules will help families learn the same tools our educators use for remote instruction.

Families can access these resources at:

6. Community Support Hubs For Virtual Learners

My deputy superintendents and I were approached several weeks ago by former board members and pastors from local churches who have a desire to help meet the needs of families within our school district; needs that have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many students are educated. After thoughtful conversations about the challenges elementary school students face while learning virtually, the Jackson-Madison County School System is partnering with area churches and non-profits to offer learning hubs for families that need in-person assistance to supplement their virtual learning efforts. A formal announcement with details of this partnership will be announced later this month. It's good stuff! Stay Tuned...

7. Commissioner's Cup Showdown

Mark your calendar: Friday, October 30.

That's the date for the big gridiron showdown between North Side and South Side. The winner will take home the Madison County Commissioner's Cup and earn the title of County Champions. I am encouraging all NSHS and SSHS alumni to show school spirit and district love on Wednesday, October, 28. Wear your blue and gold or black, red and white to show your support for this friendly rivalry that dates back to the 1950's. If you're keeping score...North Side has won the Commissioner's Cup two years in a row. Will 2020 be the year of the Hawk? I guess we'll find out next Friday.

8. Hospitality and History

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting with veteran newsman Steve Bowers and his wife, Pam, last week. It was a dinner date, but it was also a bit of a history class. Now, don't get me wrong, I am no stranger to Madison County as I grew up just a few miles down the road in Brownsville. When you're in the presence, however, of a local media personality with over 40 years of experience and context in local education and government, you listen. Steve, I am grateful for the invite! A good meal and good conversation. That's hard to beat.

Take a look at our FAQ page updates concerning questions related to the Re-Entry Phase of our New Normal Initiative

For the District: A video recap of JMCSS news from the Week of October 16.

For The District: Friday, October 16
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