Huntsville parents talk about return to five day a week in-person learning

HCS back to in-person learning 5 days a week

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - More than 70% of Huntsville City School students are now back in classrooms, five days a week across the system.

The change happened on Monday, the beginning of the second nine weeks of the first semester.

Still, a little less than 30% of students will continue to work all virtual for their school days to finish out this semester.

Erin Batrich has a freshman at Grissom High School, she and her daughter have been a little hesitant about the move.

73% of students returning to 5 day week

Batrich first talked to WAFF when HCS resumed in-person learning in a staggered schedule a little more than two months ago. She said her and her daughter liked the staggered and are a little nervous about going back to the full five days a week with double the kids in school.

“We just have to live with it and hope for the best and just make sure your kids practice all their sanitation and all that they can do and providing her with antibacterial stuff she can take to school," Batrich said.

Batrich said her daughter has really enjoyed school, though. She’s getting to see her friends again and has the chance to work with teachers in person.

Tori Medina has a middle schooler going to Mountain Gap, she said she’s making sure her daughter is as prepared as she can be for school.

“We actually went a step further and provided her with a face shield as well," Medina said. “She’s got her masks and hand sanitizer and her own thing of Clorox wipes, so she can wipe down her own desk when they switch classes.”

Medina first talked to WAFF when her daughter returned to the classroom. At the time, her biggest concerns where her daughter’s happiness and her report card.

Since going back to school, Medina said her daughter has been much happier and her grades have improved.

“I’ve noticed a tremendous difference with her grades," Medina said. "She needs that structural learning with that environment.”

Neither parent is forgetting about the threat of COVID-19, though, as cases are trending upward once again. On Oct. 1, the 7-day average for cases per day in Alabama was 675. Now, on Oct. 26, it’s 917. In the same category for Madison County, the average on Oct. 1 was 38 cases each day, on Oct. 26 it was 51.

“I started out a little uncomfortable knowing that cases were rising, but knowing how the school is communicating with parents it actually gave me a sense of relief that we will know immediately when someone does test positive," Medina said.

As of Tuesday morning, the HCS COVID-19 dashboard said there have 6 students and one student has tested positive in the last two weeks.

Batrich agreed, she said the school has done a good job communicating and updating the HCS COVID-19 dashboard, but she also said she hopes that continues with more kids heading back.

Grissom High School has seen 20 students quarantine and 2 test positive in the last two weeks, as of Tuesday morning.

As the school year continues, Batrich said one of her main concerns is teachers having enough cleaning supplies and proper access to get more.

Craig Williams, an HCS spokesperson, said the school system has an adequate supply of cleaning supplies right now and when teachers request more supplies they work to fill that order as quickly as possible. He also said they have enough sneeze guard desk shields across the district, too.

Batrich did want to show her appreciation for the teachers, administrators, janitors and all the other staff working hard to keep the spread of COVID-19 as limited as possible in her daughter’s school.

“They’re doing the best with what they have,” she said. “I have been so impressed with the positive attitude I have seen maintained in front of students and if there is a teacher having a bad day or is upset, they’re not portraying that to my kids and that means a lot.”

Looking toward next semester, HCS parents have until Nov. 18 to decide whether or not their kid will be in the classroom next semester.

Copyright 2020 WAFF. All rights reserved.