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Sumter School District Welcomes Return of Students

Posted on Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 1:52 am

School days are back! School Superintendent Richard A. Shirley, on behalf of school principals and staff, the Sumter School Board and district staff, welcomes students back on August 12, 2019 for the beginning of a new school year. Parents and students are invited to attend orientations and technology days, as scheduled below, to locate classrooms, meet teachers, secure transportation, and receive supply lists and dress code information. All adult family members should bring a valid photo ID to check in at schools.
School Safety
There is nothing more important than the safety of the children entrusted to our care. Despite the extraordinary coverage of violent school sieges, schools remain places where students are safer than any other place except their homes. The district does, however, recognize the potential threat of violence which exists every school day. Additionally, there are a variety of other critical incidents, such as tornadoes, lightning, and serious accidents that are very real occurrences easily capable of causing student injury. The Sumter school district knows both the possibility which exists for student harm and the schools’ fundamental commitment to safeguard all children from any such harm. With the assistance of community and school participants as part of the 2019 Sumter Schools Safety Task Force, we have developed response plans to be used as resources in a variety of hazardous situations. Additionally, we are providing staff and student training for our school Critical Incident Response Teams as well as more specific training for teachers concerning their roles in crisis response. Numerous changes have been made or are in progress, which will improve student safety in our schools such as photo ID check-in systems, additional fencing, security cameras and retrofitting will be in place to harden campuses. We are pleased that this year, all schools will be staffed with a School Resource Officer (SRO). The school district has employed a School Safety Specialist who has an extensive background in law enforcement and is charged with coordinating the district safety initiatives, as well as serving as a liaison with emergency response agencies.
Technology
A digital classroom is one of many important tools to help our students be successful in today’s rapidly changing global society. Schools in Sumter County have secured the electronic infrastructure needed for breakthroughs in digital learning. Schools will kick off the year with a variety of technology advances such as expanding Sumter One to One. “Sumter wants to stay on the cutting edge of technology, career preparation and innovation to help our students meet the academic needs of our students and the future workforce that will employ them,” says Superintendent Shirley.

Sumter One-to-One is expanding to provide student laptops in the classroom for every student in second through eighth grade. All high students at South Sumter Middle, South Sumter High and Wildwood Middle High will receive an individual laptop to travel with the student throughout the day and home. Technology Days will be held at each school prior to the start of school for families to receive the student laptops and load relevant applications and software. Technology Days will be held during flexible hours to accommodate working students and parents. Parents must sign an acceptable use policy. This year an optional district sponsored insurance policy will be available to reduce parents’ obligations for repair costs associated with damage to student issued laptops. Details about the insurance plan can be found on the district website. Integrating technology into the classrooms is critical to ensure all Sumter students are prepared with 21st Century Skills. Through Sumter One-to-One students have access to academic software, on demand assessments, tutoring, multi-media communication, and coding programs. Every student has a Microsoft 365 account with full access to Microsoft Outlook, Word, Sway, PowerPoint, Excel and much more.
Student Meals at No Charge
Student meals are available daily at all schools and will be offered at no charge to all students as all Sumter schools are now designated as Title I. The district will continue to request parents to complete the Free and Reduced meal forms as other critical funding is based on this data. Forms will be sent home with students at the beginning of school and should be returned promptly. Offering meals at no charge to all students will allow more food options, more a la cart choices and will generate revenue to make changes to cafeterias such as upgrading equipment.

Student Transportation
The school district provides bus transportation for children living beyond walking distance of the schools. Beginning this year all students must scan their student ID card as they enter and exit the bus. Student ID cards may be picked up by students at school orientation. Bus information such as stop location, bus number, and arrival and departure times may be obtained by attending orientation, checking the e-link on the Transportation tab of the district website, or parents may call the Transportation Department at 793-5705. It is recommended that all children ride the bus on the morning of the first day of school to assist the driver in locating bus stops. Parents may meet the bus at school or follow it along the route. Superintendent Shirley has a recommendation for parents, “On the first day of school, young children in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade should wear identification tags with first and last name, telephone number(s), home address and the correct bus number.”