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Madison County Schools welcome students back for first day; starting school year with masks optional

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 11:25 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:56 AM CDT
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MADISON, Ala. (WAFF) - Madison County School students are heading back to the classroom Wednesday, Aug. 4, for their first day of the new year.

On Aug. 2, the district released its Ready, Set, Forward Plan, which outlines safety measures, COVID-19 protocols and different teaching models for the 2021-2022 school year.

Although masks won’t be required, Superintendent Allen Perkins said the district is taking its cleaning efforts seriously, setting aside $200,000 to sanitize classrooms, buses and other high-touch areas daily.

Erin Jennings has three students in Madison County Schools. She said she’s confident in the administration.

“We feel like they are making the best decisions with the information that they’re given, and they are trying to do what’s best for the kids and they want them to succeed as much as we do,” Jennings said.

As a former teacher, Jennings said she understands how children, including her own, do much better learning face to face.

“They are ready to be in the classroom. They’re excited to be in person with their teachers, with their classmates,” Jennings said.

She said she’s going to leave it up to her children about wearing a mask, but on the way to school, all students will have to wear one. A spokesperson for Madison County Schools said the district is following the Alabama Department of Public Health’s direction.

It reads in part, “CDC’s Order to wear masks while on public conveyances applies to all public transportation including school buses. Regardless of the mask policy at school, passengers and drivers must wear masks on school buses.”

WAFF 48′s Kellie Miller spoke to Chris Tortoris, another Madison County Schools parent.

Madison County readies for first day of classes
Madison County readies for first day of classes

Overall, Tortoris feels relieved his kids will be back in a traditional setting. He believes they will learn better, plus he’ll be able to focus on his work, and so will his wife. Tortoris said it was challenging last year to juggle their work schedules while the kids were taking online classes.

He’s also eager for his kids to be able to work with their teachers, hands-on, in the classroom.

“They are excited to actually meet their teachers,” he said. “Last year, they didn’t get a chance to physically meet their teachers for a long time. So they are excited. And it’s easier for them to have hands on learning and be right in front of a teacher and have that classroom setting.”

At the end of day, Tortoris knows his kids crave and need physical activity, whether they are in P.E. class or working on a group project with peers.

“They want to be in PE, they want to be at recess, they want to be more physical with their friends whether they are playing ball or just hanging outside talking to them,” Tortoris said. “That is going to be a huge difference. And I think it makes a big difference on their personality. They are going to be a little more outgoing instead of just being confined to one spot.”

You can read the district’s Ready, Set, Forward Plan here.

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