School systems prepare for possibility of extended virtual learning

Are schools prepared for distance learning?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Schools across Alabama are preparing to go virtual for an extended amount of time if the state makes that call within the next few days.

We’re on your side speaking with multiple districts to find out their challenges and how they plan to tackle the change.

We spoke to Hoover City schools, Cullman County schools, and Bessemer City schools.

They all face certain challenges, some maybe more than the other, but they all said they’re ready.

For Cullman County, with about 9,400 students, the challenge is access to internet.

Several grades have Chromebooks, but even if they have the device, they may have no internet to use them.

Cullman County schools did hand out hotspots to grades 7-12 before the schools closed.

In the event a family doesn’t have a working device or access to internet, they have a plan in place to hand out printed assignments at the child’s school, if school is closed for an extended period of time.

With Bessemer City Schools, there are about 3,500 students there.

Each student has access to a device, but not at home.

So, preparations are now underway to get those devices distributed through a drive-thru setup at schools.

Bessemer City Schools Superintendent Dr. Autumm Jeter said, "They’ll drive up, tell us their child’s name, their child’s school, we’ll check them off the list and issue them a device."

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette said, “If they don’t have internet, I feel like they’ll reach out to us and we’ll have some lessons and some packets that they can swing through and pick up with minimal contact. But we’ll take care of them.”

Hoover City Schools has 14,000 students, and they sent out a survey to get a feel for which families may or may not have access to internet or working devices for extended eLearning.

Hoover students in grades 3-12 have Chromebooks they take home, but if internet access isn’t available, Hoover is making a list of places Wi-Fi is available.

All of this will depend on the state’s decision whether to keep schools closed, and nothing final is in place yet.

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