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Stirgus: ‘First of all, Mr. Flaggs, I love you, but …’



Vicksburg Warren School District President James Sturgis Jr. (Photo via school board video screen grab)
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The Vicksburg Warren School District held its meeting Thursday afternoon and the hot topic was opening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. expressed his opinion on the opening of the schools. In a letter to school board President James Stirgus Jr., the mayor asked that the school reopening be delayed. Flaggs cited area school districts delaying their openings and the safety of the children above all other concerns.

Stirgus took it upon himself to respond to the mayor.

“If you will allow me to respectively respond: First of all, Mr. Flaggs, I love you, but … Mr. Mayor, I’m very, very perplexed as to why you chose to give [the press] this letter instead of giving it to me first, to read it.”

Stirgus challenged the mayor on the accuracy of adjoining districts not opening. Clinton will start on Aug. 10.

“The safety of our students continues to be our top priority,” Stirgus said.

He also took responsibility for everyone not understanding that there will be online and in-person learning options.

“If every student in this district wants to go digital, they can,” he said, “or the kids can come to school. Or if the middle of the week you want to go virtual, you can.”

“You have a choice,” he added. “You can stay at home, your kids, or they can come to school. It is your choice to do that. We have given you that option. So, yes, there is virtual learning at the Vicksburg Warren School District.”

Board member Alonzo Stevens jumped into the conversation expressing his concern that the number of infected people in Warren County is spiking.

“To rush into something — our kids lives, and our teachers — I don’t see rushing,” he said. “If we have to slow down for a second to see how this thing is going to go …”

Board member Sally Bullard’s concerns were that Vo-Tech students will lose the time they have invested in their education up to now.

“If we choose to go totally virtual, is, with kids that are in Vo-Tech, or kids that are dually enrolled … they will lose that,” she said. “We have a group of children who will lose what they have been working their high school for.”

A chart showing the number of students who will attend in person or virtual

“The new numbers show a majority of our students will be [educated] at home at this point” said Superintendent Chad Shealy.

“This is probably the hardest decision we have ever made,” said Bryan Pratt.

The schools will open, as planned on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.





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