SP students return to campus; Wilder reports district growth

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Students returned to South Panola school Tuesday after a two-week break from in-person learning due to Covid cases and close contacts among students and staff.

Students, teachers, and support staff were required to wear masks during all school activities (except lunch and outdoors) when school resumed. District students spent the last 14 days under the distance learning model that has become familiar to parents, teachers and students since the pandemic arrived in Panola County 17 months ago.

Parents also had the choice to keep their children away from campuses and use the district’s virtual learning option until the end of the first nine weeks.

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Despite the struggles of providing public education during the pandemic, South Panola schools have maintained somewhat normal school days for children considering the overwhelming safety guidelines from state and federal agencies.

South Panola’s district wide enrollment increased by 46 students from the 2020-21 school year to the 2021-22 academic period. Three schools had a decrease in enrollment and three had gains.

The largest increase by far was at Batesville Elementary who went from 612 students to 693. Batesville Junior High increased from 810 to 848, and the Middle School grew from 493 to 520.

Losing student enrollment was the Intermediate School (522 to 508), the High School (1,195 to 1,174), and Pope School who dropped by one from 540 to 539.

The district’s total enrollment is 4,282 for this year, compared to 4,236 a year ago.

Superintendent Tim Wilder presented the numbers to the Board of Trustees at their regular August meeting, pointing out that South Panola is increasing at a time when some in neighboring counties are decreasing.

“I think it’s a good indication that we are headed in the right direction,” Wilder said. “Obviously it also means that we have increased challenges as we continue to grow and I’m confident in saying that we have the teachers and administrators to meet those challenges and serve our student body.”