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Rising virus cases has Mt. Pleasant looking at remote-learning model

MT. PLEASANT — As Henry County’s positivity rate continues to stay above 20 percent, the Mt. Pleasant Community School District continues conversations about switching to a remote-learning model.

Mt. Pleasant’s Superintendent John Henriksen said that the district has been looking at changing instructional models but attributes their hesitation to delivering the highest quality of education and unclear data.

“Hesitation to go to remote learning is that we more clearly understand the ramifications of what remote learning means for kids and families and the effect that it has on the quality of education for our kids,” Henriksen said.

“Yes, we are considering the best course of action. It’s [the data] just not real clear on making that decision,” he added.

Henriksen said there does not seem to be a connection between districts switching to a remote learning model and a lowered number of cases in a community.

“If there was clear data that schools in a face-to-face model are adding to the transmission problem, then the answer would be fairly easy,” he said.

The superintendent said the district’s administrative teams have spent the week “firming up” the district’s plans in terms of school schedules and distribution of technology and devices should the district make the switch.

“[Discussions] have been at an administrative level — what schedules look like, what’s the expectation, what does a teacher’s day look like in remote learning,” Henriksen said.

Currently, only the district’s middle school has gone to a hybrid model, which is expected to end by Nov. 30. Henriksen said the staffing issues that caused the switch are “starting to resolve,” but understands it will be “an ebb and flow as the virus works its way through the community.”

Henriksen again reiterated making a switch to remote learning is not one the district takes lightly.

“We want to support families and the community in the best way that we can, being mindful that going to a remote learning model has a big effect,” he said.