Multiple north Alabama schools opening with in-person learning this fall

Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 6:23 PM CDT
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ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - Multiple school systems released a joint statement on the reopening plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

The statement is on behalf of superintendents from Albertville, Athens, Colbert County, Cullman, DeKalb County, Cullman County, Haleyville, Jackson County, Limestone County, Marshall County and Russellville.

It says while these superintendents are aware of multiple systems in the state and surrounding areas that have announced plans to return to complete virtual learning once school resumes this August, but that is not their plan.

“While we respect those decisions that have been made, it is our decision that opening our school systems on our recently released schedules for traditional, in-person learning is the best option for us at this time,” the statement read.

“After carefully considering our options and following guidelines from the CDC, Alabama Department of Public Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the State Department of Education, and our governor, we believe the safety and sanitation measures outlined in each of our system’s plans for reopening will provide a safe environment for learning while allowing our students and staff to return to some semblance of normalcy this fall.”

School officials say they considered other factors in this decision. The factors they outlines include:

  • Students’ access to healthy meals. School leader say this is a great concern for many students who do not receive adequate nutrition at home.
  • Parents who must attend work will not be able to help their child learn from home during the day and are in need of child supervision.
  • Learning gaps that might arise from continued virtual learning.
  • The overall mental health of students who have missed out on interaction with their peers since March.

School leaders say they will decide about transitioning to blended or all-virtual learning if it is deemed necessary due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the schools or community, or if there is an emergency declaration at the state level.

Schools are also offering virtual education options to students whose parents or guardians are not comfortable with traditional, in-person learning at this time.

“Our goal is to provide the students at each of our schools with the best educational environment possible this school year while also remaining healthy and safe, and we are fully committed to making that happen through the plans we each have in place,” the statement read.

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