Schools getting online tutoring & safety planning
Wesson Attendance Center, as part of the Copiah County School District, will be among the beneficiaries of new high-dosage tutoring services in math and English Language Arts available to students in grades 3-12, their educators and parents across the state, and a new health and safety platform.
The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) is using $10.7 million of its American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III funds to purchase the tutoring services from PAPER, a company that provides on-demand educational support, and another $14 million in ESSER III funds to purchase the web-based nSide health and school safety platform along with required cameras for its use. PAPER was selected through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process.
One hundred twenty one school districts and charter schools, including Copiah and Lincoln County school systems, opted to receive the tutoring services at no cost. Online training and support sessions for teachers, administrators, parents and students in participating districts will start in the coming weeks. All districts will begin receiving personalized training. In the coming weeks as well, 135 districts, which opted in, will be on-boarded to the nSide platform with drills, trainings and a review of best safety practices.
ESSER III funds cover costs of the tutoring services and the safety platform and cameras until Sept. 30, 2024.
The tutoring services will be live, online and available 24/7. Teachers and administrators will have access to real-time data through a data dashboard to assign activities, monitor student progress and schedule one-on-one or small group tutoring sessions during the school day. Parents may also schedule tutorial services for their children after school hours and on the weekend. These services will also be available for English learners and students with special needs.
MDE sought high-dosage tutoring services, which is a strategy to close achievement gaps, to mitigate any impact COVID-19 and school closures had on learning and instruction and as a way to accelerate student learning.
“Besides giving educators more tools to manage instruction and gauge students’ needs and progress, these tutoring services allow parents and students to get help with homework from a tutor any time of the day,” says Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Whether it’s writing an essay or solving math problems, students can get immediate assistance to complete and better understand assignments.”
Features of health and safety platform which will aid school districts include:
One surveillance camera for each district central office and up to five school-based surveillance cameras with the ability to detect and provide notifications of crowd congestion.
Access to a 360-degree live, virtual walkthrough of a school to provide situational awareness in emergencies.
A system to create detailed campus maps and building floor plans with geo-referenced images that give first responder precise locations of individuals.
A portal to upload emergency operation plans.
A mobile app for notification of emergencies to staff and emergency responders.
Assistance with creating and managing emergency operations plans that meet state and federal requirements.
"With nearly every school district in the state choosing to use the health and safety platform, Mississippi schools will now have a more uniform approach to keeping students, teachers and staff safe," says Wright. "MDE is confident this platform will be beneficial to districts by helping them prevent and mitigate crises."
The School Safety Act of 2019 requires school boards of each district, with assistance from MDE's Office of Safe and Orderly Schools, to adopt comprehensive local school safety plans and annually provide plan updates. By offering the nSide platform to districts, MDE anticipates a more consistent development and implementation of safety plans