Bessemer City Schools will start school virtually, buys more than a million dollars worth of new laptops

Bessemer City Schools will start school virtually, buys more than a million dollars worth of new laptops
(Source: bessk12.org)

BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - Bessemer City Schools’ students will start the 2020-2021 year online.

The decision was announced during the Bessemer City Schools board meeting Tuesday night.

Students will receive instruction virtually for at least the first four weeks.

Schools are scheduled to start back August 20.

Superintendent Dr. Autumm M. Jeter said the decision was made over concern from rising COVID-19 cases from parents and employees and information from the Jefferson County Health Department.

“Bessemer City Schools has two options this year: Virtual for the year or Blended,” said Dr. Jeter.

Students on the virtual-only track will stay that way for the year, with the option to change to the blended model with the district’s approval. Dr. Jeter said the approvals would be granted on a case by case basis to prevent families from flip-flopping between the two programs.

The blended option combines virtual learning with traditional instruction. Dr. Jeter explained the first 4 weeks of the school year would be online; then, the district can decide to transition into traditional instruction or stay online for the second half of the 9-week term.

Dr. Jeter said traditional face to face instruction is the ultimate goal as students get deeper into the school year. However, the district plans to take a staggered approach to welcome students back.

“We will implement our A and B schedule where so many students will come on Monday and Tuesday. Others come Thursdays and Fridays and we will do a deep cleaning on Wednesdays.”

According to Jeter, teachers would be on-site the entirety of the year teaching from their classrooms where they will be able to practice social distancing.

To prepare for the changes, BCS board of education approved more than $1 Million dollars in CARES Act and Title 1 funding to upgrade equipment and IT support for the district.

Itemized list of purchases:

  • For teachers: 360 Dell laptops, @ $752.00 each, total cost $271,440.00. Source of Funds: Title I
  • For students: 3,630 Chromebooks for students, purchase from Howard Computers- Total Cost: $758,670.00, Source of Funds: CARES Funds and Technology Funds
  • For schools: 121 computer carts, purchase from Howard Technologies Solutions @ $735.00 each (ALJP), Total Cost: $88,935.00, Source of Funds: CARES Funds

Jeter said all of the districts 3500 students would get new equipment and its 300 plus instructors would also.

Board member Temeka Thompson (D-6) questioned the district’s ability to monitor attendance will virtual. Dr. Jeter said the district’s e-learning software could track attendance and that the teachers would also closely monitor when students log on.

As for if the district will have a football season and other sports, Dr. Jeter said the Alabama High School Athletic Association had not modified the athletic schedule for the 2020-2021 school year at the time of the meeting so the sports schedule would continue as normal until further notice.

The district will host a virtual town hall meetings for parents Tuesday, July 28. Click here for details.

Here is a link to the Bessemer City Schools’ website.

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