Jefferson County getting ready to reopen schools

Recommendations for reopening schools

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County and other school systems are waiting to hear from State School Superintendent Eric Mackey Friday on his advice for reopening in August.

School districts are already taking steps to prepare.

Dr. Walter Gonsoulin and other school superintendents were given a preview of Dr. Mackey’s plan earlier this week. No one is talking about it until the State School Superintendent makes his announcement Friday.

Gonsoulin told the board Thursday they have already been taking steps to get ready.

“I want to reassure you that our people will be working on plans for traditional schools, for remote learning and a virtual school,” Gonsoulin said.

The board did approve hiring a company to provide a virtual school education for those students wanting to add this to their academic learning. The school district is already preparing for remote learning for those students who may not want to return to the classroom. The superintendent said they are also stocking up on cleaning supplies.

“Each school will have a plan for a certain amount of cleaning products for each one of our schools and we are going to continue to do that throughout. We don’t want that burden to be placed on the schools,” Gonsoulin said.

Thermometers have also been purchased. Meanwhile, Alabama teacher unions want to see what steps will be taken to protect teachers and students in the classrooms.

“Teachers are concerned about what will their job look like? They are concerned if they will have to go back into schools with a lot of students, with a lot of other people?” Mary Anne Heyward, President of Central Alabama Federation of Teachers said.

The unions said despite those efforts, their membership is nervous about returning.

“Many of them are concerned about coming in and wearing a mask all day. Coming in and being exposed to young children not being able to keep their masks on all day,” Kem Steward of the Alabama Education Association said.

The state of Alabama may be looking at a tier system like Georgia. If there is a high level of spread of the coronavirus, schools may stay closed and depend of remote learning for students who don’t want to come back to the classroom. Traditional school would continue where there is a low spread of the virus.

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