“We Can Rise to this Challenge Together”
State Superintendent of Education Addresses COVID-19
This is not how we wanted to start the 2020-2021 school year. A pushback of start dates, virtual learning and safety precautions have changed the traditional school year routines across the state. The global pandemic that brought our 2019-2020 school year to an abrupt end is still impacting our country, including Mississippi. It is my hope that we unite to both provide a safe learning environment and to educate our children.
To school and district leaders, as a former teacher and principal, I am aware of the challenges you face in making decisions for the health and safety of students, teachers and staff in schools across the state. Although the Mississippi Department of Education, by law, cannot tell local school districts when to start school or in what format to provide student learning, the agency can and will continue to provide support and guidance to school and district leaders as they take steps to protect students and to deliver high-quality instruction. I am thankful for their leadership and flexibility under unprecedented conditions.
To parents and community members, as a parent and grandparent, I am especially grateful for all of you who have rallied around your schools during this difficult time. All of the school districts grappled with tough decisions as they planned to open schools safely this fall. Community support and input have never been more important. We are all in new territory together, and I encourage you to extend grace and assistance whenever possible.
This same spirit of cooperation and support between communities and schools is what has helped push public education forward. Fueled by your hard work, Mississippi earned national recognition last fall when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results showed we were one of only two states or jurisdictions with significant gains in three of the four NAEP-tested subjects in reading and math. We were also recognized by Quality Counts 2020 as one of the five most improved states in the nation.
Sustaining this progress will be more difficult because of COVID-19. As your school districts work to mitigate health risks, we must remain committed to our mission to improve academic outcomes for all students. Parents, educators and school leaders have the same goal: they want students to learn and grow and to be successful in school and life.
Yes, this school year will be a challenge, but I am confident we can rise to this challenge together. Our students are depending on us.
Dr. Carey M. Wright is the Mississippi State Superintendent of Education. Find more information and resources at mdek12.org.