Schools will reopen: state announces Alabama’s Roadmap to Reopening Schools plan

Updated: Jun. 26, 2020 at 11:52 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey and state leaders announced their plans for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 year.

Mackey says as the state looks forward to the 2020-2021 school year, we know many challenges lie ahead, but it is the intention of the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) that all schools reopen this fall under the following guiding principles.

The Alabama Roadmap to Reopening focuses on three areas including status of campus availability, guidance for now and guidance for when students are back on campus.

Dr. Mackey said the full intention is for schools to start back on campus this fall.

Mackey also said this will be one of the hardest years we’ve had just because of the changes and dealing with the pandemic.

Mackey said, “There are ways to continue with our normal lives, but they will look different.”

Local Boards of Education, upon the recommendation of their superintendents and in consultation with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and/or local public health officials, will make determinations about specific changes in campus status throughout the year.

What are some things that might be different on campuses?

Local school systems set day-to-day policies and procedures. Communications around when and if facial coverings should be worn, for example, will come directly from your local school system. Students may expect to see changes in physical distancing, increased sanitization, and personal hygiene on while on campuses.

All schools will undergo enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and all schools will have designated quarantine areas for students who become sick at school.

It is the recommendation of ALSDE that all school systems provide access to both traditional and remote options throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

Classroom layout will change. The state recommends facing desks all in one direction, and avoid clustering kids on a carpet for reading time.

Distance learning offered by the state still requires local teachers to administer the lessons and interact with students. It’s up to local districts to decide how they staff that.

What is being done to close the digital divide for Alabama’s students?

ALSDE continues to work with state leaders to secure funding and additional opportunities for expansion of broadband infrastructure. Many school systems have already invested in innovative tactics to close the digital divide by purchasing devices.

The state recommends teachers consider adding a digital component to their instruction at the beginning of the year so they can prepare students for the possibility of all-remote learning should the need arise.

Will extracurricular activities be allowed?

Yes, we will continue to work with school systems to provide best practices for off-campus field trips, etc. We also continue to share the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s guidance for sports.

The state also recommends limiting the number of entry and exits to school to one or two, limiting the sharing of any classroom resources and disinfecting/cleaning them between uses.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “I think it’s a good plan but we continue to have cases around the state, yet we understand the need to return to some sense of normalcy. No one knows that the best answer is but we’re trying to make the best decision based on all the data we have.”

You can read the Parent’s Guide from the Alabama State Department of Education below:

The Shelby County School System has released a statement on Dr. Mackey’s plan. You can read the statement below.

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