SCPS prepares for the new school year

Published 5:58 am Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Employees of the Southampton County Public School Division are preparing for the full return of in-person learning five days a week in a school year that will feature the introduction of the system’s first electric buses and the return of hot and cold food choices.

A school system news release continued by stating that elementary schools across the district are working diligently to enroll kindergarten and new students, as well as complete other housekeeping duties. Each have received donations of school supplies, which they are working to sort for teachers’ classrooms. They are also working on preparing the wellness room that will be provided for staff members to use before and after school and during their breaks. Principals are working on establishing goals and strategies for implementation. 

At Southampton Middle and High schools, many projects are being completed to prepare for the start of the new school year. The outside of the schools are being pressure washed, and halls and classrooms are being painted. New flooring is also being installed in the child care and life skills rooms at the high school. Student schedules are being finalized for the upcoming school year.  

Additionally, student-athletes in football, volleyball, field hockey, cross country, cheerleading, golf and marching band have started conditioning and practicing for the upcoming season. On Aug. 12, the golf team was set to compete in its first match at Cypress Creek Golfers’ Club. The junior varsity and varsity football teams were set to hold their first scrimmages at home against Booker T. Washington High School on Aug. 12.

The district’s central office staff members are busy working to prepare for the new school year too. As the school system receives student registrations, staff members are working in synergy to ensure transportation, food services, technology and special educational needs are prepared for the first day of school and beyond. 

Norma Jones, division special education specialist, said, “Our department is excited to return to hands-on work. We are preparing to address all areas of students’ needs and to be a strong support for our special education teachers.” 

The instruction department is preparing professional development training for all employees, which will take place at the beginning of the school year and during designated dates within the school year. The department has also finalized the Bridging the Gaps Plan, which is aimed at recognizing and reversing any learning gaps sustained during mandated closures. Student handbooks have been reviewed and revised by the Student Handbook Committee, and the district’s Crisis Manual was also updated. The curriculum team has met and developed a health plan to address the new interim guidance and prevention of COVID-19, used to ensure the safety of students and staff as they return face-to-face.  

The Southampton County Public School Division is a one-to-one institution; each enrolled student is issued an electronic device to enhance course content and learning. The technology department has been working over the summer to update the school-issued iPads, which include speed enhancements. The department is also working with each school to prepare devices for new teachers, staff members and newly enrolled students.  

The transportation department has just been approved for two unique pieces of technology — the first electric school buses for the division. 

“The partially grant-funded school buses will support the school division’s sustainable initiatives,” said Will Melbye, coordinator of auxiliary services and transportation and grant writer. 

He and his team are developing bus routes for the new year, taking the increase of student enrollment and safety into account. 

“We are reorganizing routes to be certain our children do not have to cross the road and are loading and unloading the school buses safely,” adds Joshua Griffin, supervisor of transportation. 

The department is also exploring the feasibility of including Virginia Retirement System benefits for drivers.

SCPS plans to bring back hot and cold food choices this school year. The department is currently preparing for the food service staff training and orientation to be held closer to the start of school. 

“Many parents will find comfort learning our staff will have extensive food allergen training this year,” said Raquel Locklear, supervisor of food services. “Likewise, many parents are relieved with the recent UDSA announcement that all students will be provided free breakfast and lunches this year.”  

When asked what new food choices SCPS middle and high school students can look forward to, Locklear laughed and said, “Chicken wings.” 

Dr. Gwendolyn P. Shannon, division superintendent, said she is “pleased with the progress that is being made to move the school division back to full in-person learning five days a week.” 

To learn more about Southampton County Public Schools, including employment opportunities, visit the SCPS website at Those interested may also join the conversation on social media using #scpsva.