COVID-19 sends students and faculty home


Colin Kennedy

Partnership Middle School at Mississippi State University.

Ben Harvey

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Going to school during this pandemic has proven to be a challenge even in the best of times. Health risks are a constant factor, leading many schools to turn to online classes. However, in an unusual but healthconscience move, the Partnership Middle School chose to switch only a single grade to an entirely online school on November 9. 

Julie Kennedy has been with the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and currently serves as principal of the Partnership Middle School.  

“We shifted to a full virtual learning environment for all 6th graders due to Covid-positive cases and close contacts among staff that significantly impacted our instructional staff for 6th grade,” Kennedy said.  

There are health risks associated with contracting the Covid virus; therefore, students quarantined for nine days and returned on Wednesday, November 18.  

“The decision to go virtual was made collaboratively by the Partnership administrators, the school nurse, and the superintendents,” Kennedy said.  

Kennedy along with Anna Guntharp, assistant superintendent and Eddie Peasant, superintendent informed parents immediately via remind text, email and callout. Potential concerns such as meals were addressed in the message: 

“Meals for all 6th grade students are available for pick-up via drive-through services from 10:30 until 11 a.m. Monday-Friday at the Starkville High School cafeteria. 

Kennedy said the transition to virtual was “rather smooth,” as the students at the Partnership Middle School have been preparing all year to learn online from the Canvas platform. The school and teachers contacted parents with an online learning schedule to use on virtual learning days.  

“Our teachers have been teaching on-line all year with our virtual students. The teachers knew what to do and so did our students,” Kennedy said.  

The SOCSD technology department issued Chromebooks to students and parents Tuesday, November 10. This allowed students without a device of their own to complete their online learning at home. Premade packets were available for students without internet capability  

After what could have been an interruption in education, the SOCSD sixth grade students were able to go through this time with minimal difficulties.