Unique Initiative Helps Coast Students

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An initiative by the BellSouth Foundation and the state Department of Education will allow students who are displaced by of Hurricane Katrina to finish the school year on time.

The initiative allows students to complete courses online in a self-study format.

The foundation is donating $5 million toward enabling students in the Gulf states to continue their education via virtual courses. Of that amount, $2.5 million goes to Mississippi students.

The goal is to let students who were just months from graduation get their diplomas on time.

A vehicle for the online courses already exists: the Mississippi Online Learning Institute (MOLLI). It's a web-based educational service offered by the state Department of Education to provide students and educators with access to a wider range of course work.

Coast educators welcome the plan as a way to allow their seniors to keep on track at a time when it's unsure just when some schools will reopen. Seniors trying to graduate will be given priority.