What goes into schools deciding to go virtual?

Will school districts move to virtual?

FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WBRC) - Education leaders use the same data on COVID-19 we report daily. The data has led to decisions to temporarily move some school systems virtual, but could some districts take a major shift back?

The short answer is not right now.

We talked with several districts today and there were no immediate plans to switch, but it’s not out the question - even as one district reported sending students home today as a COVID safety precaution.

“There is no plan to shut down schools between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” state State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey.

But it’s a real question as leaders monitor community spread and counties fluctuate from low to high risk on the state COVID tracker.

“We are monitoring it for just that.- just like I did today. I sent the 6th grade students home,” said Superintendent Fairfield City Schools Dr. Regina Thompson.

Some students at CJ Donald Middle in Fairfield City Schools went home Monday as a COVID exposure safety precaution after a parent of a student tested positive. The superintendent says these are the kinds of things they weigh, along with community COVID data as they consider learning options.

“If we saw a lot of cases, we would go to our plan and our plan does say that we would shut down schools," Dr. Thompson said.

Officials with Leeds City Schools said Monday they aren’t looking to switch, but they have recently reminded teachers to be ready if the data supports it.

Shelby County leaders say the plan to continue forward as planned, but they will meet soon to discuss the next semester.

St. Clair County Schools is set to phase out the hybrid model next month and only offer full in person or virtual. Leaders say what would tip the scale to full virtual is not only cases but manpower.

“We lasted to November with the safety measures, but it becomes insurmountable odds when you can’t find the staff to cover absences," said Superintendent Mike Howard.

Districts say they weren’t given a benchmark by the state to use to decide when there needs to be a shut down, but they’re working with their local health leaders to determine what would warrant another temporary shut down.

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