Shelby County puts the finishing touches on the upcoming school year

Shelby County Schools start Thursday

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - School leaders in Shelby County are putting the finishing touches on plans for the upcoming school year – which starts, for some, on Thursday.

Dr. Lewis Brooks said he appreciates how students, parents, teachers and staff have adjusted during this period of uncertainty.

And while the district’s plans to reopen changed abruptly last week, he’s confident about the new plan to go back to school.

Students in Shelby County will be cautiously together come Thursday.

Well, at least half of them.

“Our reason for pivoting to the ‘Cautious Together’ phase had to do with some guidance we received from the Alabama Department of Public Health,” Dr. Brooks explained.

“And we felt like, with some of the guidance that they were offering to us, that we could not bring all of our students back at one time,” Dr. Brooks explained.

The new plan allows the district to welcome students back to school on a staggered schedule, which means about 50% of students will be in the classroom two days a week based on their last names.

The other three days of instruction will be remote learning.

“Probably not the most ideal circumstances for us to choose, particularly for parents and community members, but we felt like it was the best way for us to open the doors for face-to-face instruction,” Dr. Brooks said.

Some parents have complained that the communication has been weak in recent days regarding the changes, but Dr. Brooks maintains he’s been transparent, and has asked parents for patience and flexibility.

“It’s unfortunate that it came so quickly and I know that it created a lot of anxiety, frustration, concern, but I certainly want to assure our parents that we’re trying to do the best that we can so that our kids can receive the instruction that they deserve,” Dr. Brooks said.

Dr. Brooks said the plan will be in place for four weeks as district leaders continue to analyze health data about COVID-19.

He said it is his hope that within this four-week period they will be able to bring all students back to school.

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