Nearly 75% of 2,028 parents surveyed by the McComb School District said they were ready to return their children to classrooms, and the school board voted Tuesday for a hybrid format that will include both in-person and online instruction.

As trustees discussed last week, the student body at each school will be split in half when the second nine weeks begins this coming Monday.

One group will be in class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the days that each group is not in classrooms, it will participate in online instruction.

Fridays will be a “personalized learning day” in which some students would attend school while others would work online.

The vote for the hybrid format was 4-1, with Lynn Martin opposed. She said she had asked at last week’s work session to see the final results of the survey.

She added, “We haven’t given parents enough time to prepare, especially students who wear a uniform. They may have outgrown them since March,” the last time schools were open.

Regarding the survey, Superintendent Dr. Cederick Ellis said the information would be available at the end of the meeting.

“No one requested that they needed the data before voting on the plan,” he added.

“I would love to see data on an item that’s on our agenda before I vote on it,” Martin replied.

“That data is here now,” Ellis said. “And if the board wishes for Kim to give it to you now, she can.”

After administrative assistant Kim Mabile gave trustees one page about the parent survey and three more about a survey of employees, Martin said, “I would love the opportunity to review this. It will determine whether or not I vote for it. I’m just asking for a little more time.”

Board chairman Kizzy Coney, however, called for a vote right away.

McComb used online education for the first nine weeks of the school year. Its survey of parents for the second quarter broke down the vote by each of the six schools.

The support for a hybrid format ranged from 91% at Otken Elementary to 60% at Denman Junior High School. All told, 1,515 of 2,028 parents surveyed favored the hybrid format.

Another survey of 283 school district employees had noticeably different results: 143 favored hybrid for the second nine weeks, while 140 wanted to stay with online only.

Among 211 certified employees, which includes teachers and others licensed by the state Department of Education, 25% were comfortable or very comfortable returning to in-person instruction. Another 35% were somewhat comfortable with the idea, while the remaining 40% were not comfortable.

Ellis said some of the Plexiglas “sneeze guards” to separate students have been installed in classrooms and the rest have been ordered.

In another matter, the board approved a district-wide janitorial contract with a new company, ABBCO Service Corp. of St. Louis.

The district will pay ABBCO $39,909 per month for janitorial and custodial services at nine buildings. The contract approved Tuesday begins in November and ends eight months later, in June 2021.

Ellis said ABBCO was the low bidder for the work, winning it over the company hired in 2016, GCA Education Services of Knoxville, Tenn.

The cost of cleaning the buildings has gone up: If the new contract lasted for a full year, the payments would total $478,000. The district agreed to pay GCA $431,000 in the first year when it hired that company four years ago.

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