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Mississippi Schools: Guidance for the 2020-21 School Year

This webpage provides guidance, considerations and best practices for Mississippi schools and districts for operating school in the 2020-21 school year. It has been developed with input from school and district leaders, mental health and health professionals, teachers, parents, and students. Additional information will be added as further research, data and resources become available.

The process of returning to school will look different in the 2020-21 school year because of the ongoing threat of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Districts will need to adjust educational practices to best protect the health of students and staff in keeping with guidance from the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) and the CDC. Despite these challenges, the MDE and the Mississippi State Board of Education remain committed to the state’s strategic plan for education that promotes high standards of achievement for ALL students. Local school districts should use their authority and flexibility to meet their individual needs and to be responsive to their communities. Districts and the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) have authority over extracurricular activities. 

The health and safety of our students, teachers and school staff is the highest priority with high-quality instruction and long-term success of students at the forefront of guidance development. Both aspects have been taken into consideration in providing the resources here.

Guidance and Policy Changes

Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH): Safer at School (June 23, 2020)
The MSDH Safer at School document summarizes the roles of the MSDH and local school districts to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. It provides supportive guidance on safer approaches to all school-based activities, within the context of individualized planning in each district.


State Board of Education Policy Changes for the 2020-21 School Year 
The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) suspended several policies on June 11, 2020 to give local school districts scheduling flexibility for the 2020-21 school year to deal with the impact of COVID-19. For a complete list of policy suspensions, view the policy suspension chart


Considerations for Reopening Mississippi Schools
Considerations for Reopening Mississippi Schools outlines a three-month timeline of strategies for superintendents and principals to consider to plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year. The document is intended to be used as a resource and starting point as school leaders consider local needs in collaboration with stakeholders. This document will be updated in three-month intervals to help school leaders adjust to changes with the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Guidance Topics

  • Academics
    • Elementary Education and Reading
    • Secondary Education
  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Attendance
  • Child Nutrition
  • Digital Learning
  • Dyslexia
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Family Resources
  • Federal Programs
  • Health and Safety
  • Intervention 
  • MSIS/OTSS Support
  • Professional Development
  • School Safety
  • School Scheduling
  • Social-Emotional Learning and Mental Health
  • Special Populations
    • English Learners
    • Gifted
    • Students with Disabilities
    • Students in Foster Care
    • Students Placed in a Youth Detention Center
  • Transportation

District Schedules

District schedules will meet the 180-day instructional requirement by implementing one or more of three options for operating schools in the 2020-21 school year: traditional, virtual or a hybrid of in-person and distance learning. Schedule types may vary among schools in the same district to meet the learning needs of students in elementary, middle and high school. School calendars, including the first and last day of school and school holidays, are set at the district level.