Concerns over Gulfport School District’s reopening plan

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The Gulfport School District plans to reopen in just under two weeks, giving parents and guardians the option to send their children to school for classroom instruction or to learn online.

A number of parents, grandparents, guardians, and community members are concerned over the options presented.

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“We want the schools to reopen, but at what cost?” The question lingering on the minds of these concerned citizens in Gulfport who gathered Friday at the 19th Street Community Center, many of them parents and grandparents of students in the Gulfport school system. Rochelle Durr is one of them. “I really don’t think school should start right now. I think they should wait 2021 until they have had ample opportunities work out all of the nicks-all of the different concerns we as parents and grandparents, as a community have.”

Resident Angela Ellis said, “Do we expect to go to school-everybody goes to school, and everything’s going to be fine? Everybody who goes to school is going to come out and nobody’s going to get this thing, and nobody’s going to die from it? We know for a fact that students and teachers will die from going back to school this year.”

Sandra Wyche has two high school aged grandchildren in the Gulfport School District. While they are opting for the online alternative for the school year, she’s concerned about those who will actually attend school and believes the health risk for them and those beyond the classroom is gravely serious. “There’s a COVID spike in Gulfport. Now, they’re shutting down bars. If you’re going to shut down bars, shut down schools.”

Resident Bettie Ewing said, “We would like the Superintendent to just stop, and let’s get together. Let’s make some collective decisions on how we’re going to return to school. Right now it is too dangerous.”

Attorney Gayle Tart has issued a letter to Gulfport Superintendent Glenn East and other state and local leaders, questioning the school district’s reopening and damage mitigation plans. This group has been involved in conversations with the superintendent.

A public meeting to address these concerns for all those in the Gulfport School District has been set to take place at the school district’s administration building, located on Pass Road in Gulfport at 5 p.m. on August 3rd, three days before the new school year begins on August 6th.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!