BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - 55% of students in Jefferson County Schools are returning for 5 days a week in person learning according to Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin said.
“We can interact and we can engage teachers and students,” Gonsoulin said.
For the last two weeks, the in person learners have been on a blended schedule, going to school 2 days a week and learning online for the other three days.
“Unless we get some type of national or statewide mandate, we plan to keep our doors open and we will handle it one case at a time,” Gonsoulin said.
There is still an all virtual option for students not ready to return, but Gonsoulin said he thinks having both options is best.
“You can tell by student achievement across the board, that students do better when it is face to face,” Gonsoulin said. ”We have seen some decline in student achievement."
The District is staggering the schedule, with only elementary schools coming back for now. Dr. Gonsoulin says the phases helps teachers prepare for more students in the classrooms.
“We have mixed emotions,” Gonsoulin said. “Of course, everyone is still aware that we are living in the middle of a pandemic, so people just want to make sure that we stay on top of the health guidelines.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health changed guidelines for schools leaders when reporting COVID-19. Nurses now only report cases to the state of positive students or ones who have lost their sense of taste or smell, but Dr. Gonsoulin says it is still important not to send your student to school sick.
“Constantly check on your child, everyday before they go to school, check their temperature,” Gonsoulin said. “Talk to them and ask them about how they are feeling. The one thing we want to do is keep the doors of the schools open. How we do that is if all of us, the adults, the students and the parents work together.”
Jefferson County middle and high school in-person learners will return for 5 day learning on October 19th.