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NEW 2020-2021
The Mississippi School Boards Association (MSBA) has developed and released new COVID-19 sample policies for the 2020-2021 school year.

MSBA has made available seven (7) sample policies that address issues involving COVID-19 in order to assist school districts in their reopening efforts during this unprecedented year. These policies can be accessed by logging into your district’s policy website and navigating to your Work in Process or WIP page. Here, you will find clean copies of each policy for your convenience. You can also find these policies by searching MSBA sample policies. The included policies are as follows:

  1. GBRIA – Family and Medical Leave Act
  2. IAAA – Distance/Online Learning
  3. IAAB – Staff Conduct on Virtual Meetings
  4. IJBD – Responsible Use of District Issued Technology
  5. JGA – Pandemic/Epidemic Emergencies
  6. JGAA – Return to School During COVID-19
  7. JRAB – Compliance with FERPA

Included with these policies is a sample Extracurricular Participation Waiver that school districts can use for their students who plan to participate in extracurricular activities.

Future MSBA policy updates, including those from the legislative session, will be released at the MSBA Policy Conference in September.
COVID-19 Sample Policy Descriptions
Below is a description of each sample policy and what information that policy contains. Keep in mind that these policies are simply designed to help districts in their transition back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the policies on this list are new policies, however, there are a few that have only been amended. Some policies may need to be customized or changed in some way in order to fit each district’s needs. Please read each policy carefully and make changes accordingly.

  1. Policy GBRIA – Family and Medical Leave Act This policy was amended to account for the changes due to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The body of the policy did not change, but instead an addendum was added under the “Exhibits” tab which accounts for the changes.
  2. Policy IAAA – Distance/Online Learning This is a new policy defining distance/online learning and states both the teacher’s and the student’s responsibilities and expectations when distance learning methods are being used. The policy also accounts for those students with disabilities and the specific requirements regarding those students.
  3. Policy IAAB – Staff Conduct on Virtual Meetings This is a new policy that discusses a variety of topics such as which virtual platforms are acceptable for use in the district, student communication, the disclosure of certain information, and staff conduct while on virtual meetings.
  4. IJBD – Responsible Use of District Issued TechnologyThis is a new policy created in accordance with SB 3044 which requires a district to create a responsible use policy for the use of district issued technology and devices under the Equity in Distance Learning Act. School districts must have a policy in place by September 1, 2020 in order to be eligible under this program.
  5. Policy JGA – Pandemic/Epidemic EmergenciesThis policy was already adopted before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, most districts do not have/did not know about this policy. This policy provides an abundance of helpful information for school districts on how to handle a pandemic/epidemic generally.
  6. Policy JGAA – Return to School During COVID-19This is a new overarching policy that accounts for many of the issues that schools will have to face upon restarting school. The policy accounts for the three different start up methods recommended by MDE, it gives guidelines on sanitation both on campus and on buses, it gives recommendations on student and employee absences and when it is safe for those infected to return to campus, and it also accounts for general transportation and visitors to campus. This policy will need to be adjusted to fit each individual district.
  7. Policy JRAB – Compliance with FERPAThis policy was amended to account for the use of distance learning methods and how any distance learning must comply with the guidelines under the Families Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The primary guideline being that districts must at all times protect the personally identifiable information of their students. 
Policies to Suspend During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Below is a list of policies that school districts should consider temporarily suspending due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has given school districts the authority to establish additional policies regarding grading, promotion, retention and graduation. During this process, certain policies may need to be temporarily suspended or altered in order to handle situations that arise during the pandemic. Keep in mind that this is NOT a comprehensive or even a mandatory list. Some of these policies may need to stay in place while there may be others that are not included that also need to be suspended. This should be considered on a district by district basis.

  • ADB – Average Daily Attendance
  • AE – School Year (Academic Year)
  • AEA – School Calendar
  • AF – School Day

  • BBBCB – School Board Member Visits to Schools
  • BCAF – Public Comments at Board Meetings
  • BCBI – Public Participation at Board Meetings

  • EBH – School Facility Rental
  • EBHA – Use of School Property

  • GBRB – Professional Personnel Time Schedule (Length of Work Day)
  • GBRC – Professional Personnel Work Load

  • IHA – Grading System
  • IHE – Promotion and Retention
  • IHF – Graduation Requirements
  • II – Testing Program

  • JBD – Attendance, Tardiness and Excuses

  • KM – Visitors to the Schools

NOTE: In light of the Mississippi Department of Education’s Considerations for Reopening Mississippi Schools, some school districts will have different methods for reopening their schools in August. Some schools are allowing students to opt-in to distance learning, however, if those students do so they must continue distance learning for the entire semester. These districts may want to consider temporarily suspending their extracurricular participation policies due to students who opt-in for distance learning will not be able to participate in extracurricular activities. Policy IDF titled “Extracurricular Activities Participation” will apply to this situation, however, there may be other policies if the district has developed their own individual policies on this matter.
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Austin Gilbert
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