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Cullman Co. Schools K-8 will return to in-person learning 5 days a week; full-time teachers receive COVID-19 assistance

In-person learning four days a week for Cullman schools.
In-person learning four days a week for Cullman schools.(Source: Cullman County Schools)
Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 4:20 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UPDATE MARCH 11: Cullman County School Superintendent Shane Barnette announced a return to five-day per week on-campus learning in grades K-8. The change will take effect on Monday, April 12.

Traditional students in grades 9-12 will have the option of going to school in person beginning April 12. Cullman County Schools has a higher number of virtual students in grades 9-12, which is why this plan is different than K-8.

Current virtual students are encouraged to return to in-person instruction to finish out the school year.

The school system says the mask mandate will have expired by that time, and students will not be required to wear masks.

The Cullman County Commission on Education approved two items directly related to support for employees. American Behavioral will provide an employee assistance program for all full-time employees of Cullman County Schools at no cost to the employee. It will be paid for with CARES Act funding.

The board also approved a one-time $500 supplement for all full-time employees, with the exception of the superintendent.

“I am proud to be able to provide these benefits to our employees. In other industries, employees would be compensated for extra duties and overtime, but our certified employees do not receive that,” said Dr. Shane Barnette. “All of our employees have - and continue to go above and beyond to make it possible to educate our young people.”

UPDATE Jan. 27: Students in middle school and high school will return to a four-day school week on campus beginning Monday, Feb. 8.

Elementary students are already on a four-day school schedule, and that will remain unchanged.

Wednesdays will continue to be reserved for teachers to have time to work with virtual students, and for school deep cleaning.

Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette has a goal of returning students to a five-day school week as quickly and safely as possible. The move to four days per week is the next step in that process.

“I believe our plan to begin this semester remotely has put us in good position to transition back to four days a week with our middle and high schools. Our goal is to have all students back at school five days a week. Our hope is that this will be soon.”

Schools officials want to remind everyone that Alabama continues to be under a mask mandate. Masks are required on campus, and all other state guidelines will be followed in all school buildings and at school events.

According to the Cullman County Schools Facebook page, they are making changes to the academic and athletic schedules, and instituting new requirements due to COVID-19.

Cullman County reports seeing an increased number of COVID-19 cases. The Alabama Department of Public Health determined Cullman County continues to be in the “very high risk” category as of December 14.

Cullman says with a two-week holiday break approaching, there is concern of increasing community spread. Due to this, the system anticipates a surge of cases if school resumes in a traditional environment. To help protect students, faculty, and staff, Superintendent Shane Barnette is announcing the following changes:

-Remote Learning: All Cullman County School students will transition to remote learning beginning January 6 through January 15. Cullman County School employees will work on campus during this time.

-Hybrid learning: Hybrid learning will resume January 19 and remain in effect until at least January 29. This model, including affected grade levels and schools, will be identical to what is currently in place across the school system.

-Athletic Events: Effective Tuesday, December 15 through Friday, January 15 all sporting events played in Cullman County School facilities will be limited to 2 spectators per participant. Season ticket holders will be eligible for prorated refunds if unable to attend due to the new restrictions. Attending spectators must wear a mask and maintain social distancing during the game. During the period of remote learning the only games allowed are those designated as Varsity area games that must be played for seeding.

The new guidelines will continue to be in place during this period. Dr. Barnette wants to announce these instructional changes now, to give educators and parents as much time as possible to prepare for remote instruction. He also understands the importance of athletics for a student athlete, their family, and the community. He hopes these changes will help to preserve the season all while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

”The safety of our students and employees is always my top priority while we balance the importance of high-quality instruction and the social and emotional well-being of our students,” said Barnette.

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