BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Gadsden City Schools, Bessemer City Schools, Tuscaloosa City Schools, and Jefferson County Schools are all now offering face to face learning for students.
“It will look different, but it’s that same rigorous teaching that they are accustomed too," Bessemer City Schools Superintendent Dr. Autumm Jeter said. “A level of face to face learning really allows you to connect with the child as opposed to getting those questions from them or helping them later. When the child is right there with you, you can help them immediately, so we needed to have a variety of options.”
Jeter said 75% of students in Bessemer City Schools are heading back to the classroom for the first time since March. The district is offering a blended in person schedule, so classrooms will only be half capacity. Virtual is still an option for families not ready to return.
“They will see signage on the floor, signage on the doors, and of course the face masks are brand new. We’ve never had to do that in our school history," Dr. Jeter said.
Dr. Jeter said a major part of returning was developing a plan for potential COVID-19 outbreaks, adding isolation rooms to each school and assigning desks.
“We will know who the child has been around or has come in contact with if they moved about the building," Jeter said. "In the event that we do have a positive case of an employee or student, we will follow protocols as it relates to that particular classroom or those individuals who that child or employee has been around.”
Similar preparation is also taking place for the 36,000 students in Jefferson County Schools.
“We are not judging any parent for their decision, our goal is to just meet children and parents right where they are, to give them a quality education," Jeffco Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin said.
Gonsoulin said more than 50% of students will return for in person learning, but they are staggering the schedule, with only elementary school coming back for now and older grades returning in a few weeks. He said he hopes parents know that things are flexible.
“We are encouraging these parents, even though we are offering this face to face model, and they are choosing to do so, at any time we can have a child go home for 10-14 days, so always have a back up plan,” Dr. Gonsoulin said.
Gonsoulin said the district is adding cleaning measures, with a private crew cleaning on the weekends.
“It’s essential for children to be around their peers and to be around their teachers," Dr. Gonsoulin said.
Both districts require masks for students and faculty.
“It is a good thing and we all know that we need to try our best to get back to a level of normalcy," Dr. Jeter said.
Both districts have plans to move towards a full 5 days a week schedule over the next few months.