JDC teachers lose instructional time during lockdowns

Published 1:18 pm Friday, February 25, 2022

Teachers in the Jefferson Davis County School District are still playing catch up after threats caused lockdowns at all three schools in the district this month. “It alters everything,” said Nita Shoemake. Shoemake is a second grade teacher at G. W. Carver Elementary in Bassfield. Shoemake says most of the instructional time is in the morning before lunch, which is exactly when the lockdowns were implemented since the threats came first thing in the morning. Protocol for teachers and staff is that all doors are locked, the lights are off and there is no moving around.

“Some of the students are truly worried about what is happening, so we reassure them that it is just a threat, and nothing is actively happening. We just have to follow the rules.” The students had books to read and paper and pencils to draw, which helped pass the time.

“It puts you behind because you’ve lost your instructional time for the day.” That is critical because the district is headed into 9 weeks and diagnostic testing. “Losing those days affects the weeks following because you don’t get those days back.” The district moved to virtual learning for two days last week following the threats. “We had everything ready and were able to send packets home for the virtual days, so that helped tremendously.”

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The lockdowns were lifted by lunch, but students weren’t allowed to go out for recess after lunch as a safety precaution.

Law enforcement officers have charged three juveniles in relation to the recent threats. The juveniles are charged with making terroristic threats and have all been suspended from school pending a youth court hearing sometime in March.

JDC Superintendent Ike Haynes has met multiple times with the district executive staff in recent days regarding the district’s response to the threats. “We were disappointed that those charged are students of the district, and those students face consequences as defined by our student handbook,” said Haynes. Haynes says it is not the district’s goal to just punish students. “We will be implementing several strategies to provide our students with the skills needed to avoid similar incidents in the future.”

Those strategies include implementing a behavior modification curriculum, a social and emotional learning curriculum, increased character education with school counselors and school resource officers and bringing in outside service agencies. “We ask for the continued support of our parents and community in helping stress the importance of social media responsibility.” Haynes will also address the entire district staff at a district-wide professional development Friday where he will talk about the next steps.

“We want to reiterate our thanks to the Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Office, the MBI, Homeland Security, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and all others involved in the investigation. It was truly a cooperative effort.”