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Natchez-Adams schools closed until at least April 17

NATCHEZ — Gov. Tate Reeves announced Thursday morning that public schools throughout Mississippi would remain closed until at least April 17 due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Reeves made the announcement in a live video on Facebook.

“We’re all in this together and we’ve got to work together to make sure we minimize and mitigate the damage from COVID-19,” Reeves said in his video announcement.

Reeves said he would also relax end of year testing requirements as well as school accountability measures and reassured that all school district administrators and teachers would continue to be paid their usual salaries on time.

Reeves said further “this is not the time to take a vacation” and congratulated the state’s schools in their efforts to provide distance learning and online assignments during the closure.

Natchez Adams School District Superintendent Fred Butcher said the school district was in the process of developing distance-learning materials and would announce a distribution schedule later this week.

“Our situation is unique because we have students who live in rural areas of the county without internet access, so we are developing ways to accommodate them,” Butcher said. “… We are in the process of printing hard copied materials for our students and are trying to provide multiple ways to continue their education.”

The Mississippi State Board of Education voted Thursday to suspend all federal and state assessments for the 2019-2020 school year and to request for the U.S. Department of Education to waive federal requirements for the state assessments.

Because of the suspension of federal and state assessments, districts will retain their accountability grade they received during the 2019-2020 school year for this year.

The Board of Education also voted to forego the requirement to have a 180-day school year due to the COVID-19 closure.