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New academic year begins for area schools this week as pandemic continues

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
News alert

The school year will continue to ramp up over the next few days as four school systems reopen in Carter County. Students in Lone Grove, Springer, Wilson and Zaneis all begin school this week with new precautions in place due to the ongoing pandemic.

On Tuesday, Lone Grove Public Schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year. Springer Public Schools and Zaneis Public Schools will follow on Wednesday and Wilson Public Schools on Thursday. Schools beginning class this week are also giving families the option between traditional or distance learning.

All four school systems, with a combined enrollment last year of more than 2,100, have implemented protocols suggested by education and health officials from the state and federal levels. Social distancing will be enforced at most schools through either designated cohorts by grade, assigned seating or a combination of the two, according to return plans issued by the school districts.

Masks are highly recommended for students and staff but not required on campus, and transportation for Lone Grove, Springer and Wilson will have mask requirements. Teachers at those three schools will also be issued masks, and Springer students will also receive two fabric masks. All districts’ plans include detailed protocols if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

While most school plans share similar protocols, some have unique or specific rules. For example, Lone Grove has a 10-minute limit for visitors and each principal can set visitor capacity restrictions; Wilson outright prohibits visitors and students being picked up early will be escorted outside to a parent’s car.

While these school systems will return to the classroom, students and teachers at Mannsville Schools will move to distance learning after a faculty member tested positive for COVID-19.

School officials at the Johnston County district learned about the positive test on Monday afternoon, which was only the fourth day of school. Superintendent Brandi Price-Kelty said the move to distance learning will begin on Tuesday and continue until at least Aug. 24.

Schools in Kingston and Pauls Valley have also closed school doors this year due to confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Dickson Public Schools was the first school system in Carter County to begin the school year on Aug. 5. Public and private schools in Ardmore, Healdton and Fox are scheduled to begin next week.