TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The Tuscaloosa City Schools will continue with a hybrid learning model for in-person students for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
School leaders announced Friday they are continuing with Monday-Thursday face-to-face and Fridays being used for asynchronous learning and connecting with families.
Students will begin five days of face-to-face instruction in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.
Superintendent Dr. Mike Daria said the decision followed careful consideration of the factors.
“As we’ve worked to make the decision for the last part of the school year, we’ve looked at everything from our employee vaccinations, the needs of our virtual students, balancing the needs of educators, and the needs of our students,” said Daria. “We want to make sure the instruction is robust and strong and we want to do that in a way that we can ensure it is taking place.”
This announcement maintains the status quo for virtual students as well as provides TCS the opportunity to continue meal distribution on Fridays for families. About a third of TCS students are full-time virtual, many of whom are being taught by teachers who are also teaching face-to-face as well during the week.
“Our virtual students’ schedules are important. It’s important that they have access to their instructors at the times they have access to (them) now, and that includes time on Friday.”
Daria also cited the need and importance for continued educator planning time for delivery of in-person and virtual instruction, along with that time providing teachers the opportunity to connect with students who need additional support. Additionally, the Fridays allow for deeper cleaning of schools.
“To our parents who may be disappointed with our decision for March, April, and May, I assure you we are on target to be five days in the fall: full-time and in-person,” said Daria. “In fact, there are no other decisions to be made at this point. We are ready to get our children back on all of our campuses.”
Next fall, Pre-K through eighth-grade students with documented medical issues may access homebound services through the TCS procedures. Students in grades 9-12 may access virtual learning through the established policy.
Meanwhile, TCS has seen declining COVID-19 numbers among students and staff in recent weeks. As of Friday, there are three employees and 11 face-to-face students who have active cases of COVID-19 and who are presently in isolation.
During February, many educators received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine thanks to a partnership with DCH Regional Health Center, with more in line to receive over the coming weeks.