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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — COVID-19 upended this year for students, and leaders will have to make some major changes in the coming months.

Overseeing 42 schools with nearly 35,000 students, DeSoto County Schools superintendent Cory Uselton now spends his days figuring out what the next school year will look like. 

“It’s a very difficult task,” Uselton said.

COVID-19 forced Uselton’s team to look at contingency plans. Right now, they’re focusing on three different models.

“There’s the traditional model, where students come back and everyone is in class,” Uselton said. “We’ve looked at a hybrid model where students are in class for two or three days a week, and they distance learn the rest of the week, and then we’ve also been looking at the distance learning model. We feel like we need to be prepared for all three scenarios.”

Part of the decision for how the upcoming year will look comes from surveys taken by parents and teachers.

Questions ranged from how reliable internet access is, do students have computer access at home, and what are possible concerns for parents. 

“We also want to know the comfort level as far as parents when their children return to school,” Uselton said.

Uselton said getting input from parents will help them make decisions.

Also top of mind for the district is the social and emotional well-being of students.

“Being disconnected from the school like they have for so long, this is where their peers are, this is where a lot of their role models are, and there’s a lot of concerns in the community about the social and emotional health of our students,” Uselton said.

The superintendent is asking for patience and said there’s no perfect solution during these tough times. 

He said the district could potentially make a tentative decision about how the upcoming school year will look sometime this week.