HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Huntsville, Madison City, Madison County Schools will start the school year all-virtual on August 19.
The school districts made this decision jointly for the safety of students, staff, and the community after reviewing the public health situation in north Alabama and across the state and assessing what a full reopening of schools could mean for the community.
The first nine weeks will be all-virtual, with schools beginning to discuss reentry plans after about six weeks. Resumption of in-person learning will depend on the status of COVID-19 in the community and state.
Plans are being made to provide meals to students in need and help families with limited or no internet access get what they need for their students. Huntsville City Schools is working with internet providers to get low-cost internet services to families who need it.
Students will have the option of remote learning, which looks more like a traditional school day, or Virtual Academy, which allows for more flexibility for student and families to choose their learning time. Most students who choose the Virtual Academy option will be required to remain in it for the full semester.
Attendance will be taken via log-ins.
In addition to recording lessons, teachers will have time set aside for "Virtual Q&A" to interact with and assist students.
Teachers are being trained for virtual learning with state-supplied materials and a statewide virtual learning platform. The later start to the school year (August 19) will allow more time for teachers to prepare lessons for the virtual year. Because all schools will be on the same virtual platform, teachers can also reach out across districts for assistance.
The virtual start will also reduce both the amount of money and time spent on daily cleaning and sanitizing within the schools.
When schools return to in-person learning, it may be on a modified or staggered schedule.
A joint statement released this morning says:
Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols joined superintendents from Huntsville and Madison County schools today to jointly announce a revised schools reentry plan.
This reentry plan that the school districts mutually agree on calls for an all virtual school opening with the intent to offer school-based learning if COVID-19 risks lower to safer levels. The decision was reached after assessing the public health situation in north Alabama and statewide.
The following joint statement was released Wednesday morning:
As you are aware, the number of COVID-19 cases in Madison County continues to increase. Alabama had 39 confirmed cases when the statewide school closure order was announced in mid March by Gov. Kay Ivey. Madison County had one confirmed case at that time.
Today, there are more than 65,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide, including more than 3,500 in Madison County. Officials hope mask requirements and social distance pushes will slow the alarmingly high gains in COVID-19 cases.
With that said, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Therefore, we will start school August 19th at Level 3 - Substantial Spread, based on our reopening plan for the first 9 week grading period.
In addition, employees should plan to return to work as scheduled.
Thank you for all that you do to support the development of our students.