Colbert, Marshall County school districts going all virtual until 2021

Virus spike forcing schools to go virtual in north Alabama

COLBERT, MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - We’re seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases in the Tennessee Valley and our schools are feeling the impact.

Now, with two north Alabama school districts going virtual until 2021.

Marshall County Schools and Colbert County Schools are stopping in person learning.

Students in Marshall county had their last day in the classroom Thursday. And Friday is the last day of in person classes for Colbert County students.

In order for in-person classes to work, there has to be enough staff to cover the classrooms, and that’s becoming increasingly harder for many districts.

“When the school secretary or the school nurse is having to cover a classroom in the absence of a substitute, those are the times we tell a district hey look, no one’s going to fault you. Do the right thing," William Tunnell said.

William Tunnell with the Alabama Education Association believes loosened quarantine guidelines could be partly to blame.

“The fever symptoms, the shortness of breath symptoms, things of that nature, those are not leading to quarantines any longer," Tunnell said.

Tunnell says quarantine guidelines are followed if they’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive, or if they’ve been in contact with someone who is experiencing loss of taste or smell.

Over the last two weeks, 37 students and staff at Marshall County have tested positive for the virus, including superintendent, Cindy Wigley who’s also been substituting in the classroom. More than 300 are in quarantine.

“It’s better for students and parents, both for us to be in school, but we’ve hung on as long as we can and we’re in unprecedented times," Wigley said.

Meantime, Colbert County Schools is following suit.

Superintendent Gale Satchel says she has 10 staff members out at one school and no janitors at another.

This decision also comes after a longtime bus driver, Bobby Stutts died after contracting COVID-19.

“He was constantly wearing the mask, he had extra masks on his bus for the kids. He checked all the boxes, yet he still contracted COVIDand it took his life as well," Satchel said.

Satchel says he lost his fight with the virus after checking into Helen Keller Hospital several weeks ago.

“We certainly have his wife and kids in our prayers, as well as his church family," she said.

Satchel says she urges everyone to keep wearing that mask.

“We don’t want anyone else to lose their lives.”

Satchel says students will start virtual learning on Monday and not return to the class until after the New Year.

The same goes for students at Marshall County.

Both schools will also be coordinating meal handouts.

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