School systems across Sand Mountain have put plans into place in order to combat COVID-19.
Albertville City Schools Superintendent Boyd English said the district had been working on a plan in the event cases of the coronavirus are confirmed.
“We have been diligently working, planning and developing a response to the virus that could impact communities and school systems in the state of Alabama,” English said. “At this time [Thursday, March 12], there are no confirmed cases in Alabama. However, we will be prepared to respond in the best interest of everyone in the Aggie Family. While there are significant concerns, we should not be overcome by panic and fear. We will get through any challenge together. A potential novel coronavirus outbreak impacting our system will be handled swiftly, with safety being our number one priority.”
The district sent out documents detailing the school system’s response and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If forced to close, Albertville said it would provide “prescriptive plans.” Lessons in grades K-4 would be centered on reading, math and writing activities. For grades 5-12, the focus would be on “core content areas” of English, math, science and social science. Students would be able to access the assignments via school system websites, Clever, Google classroom and other approved digital learning sources within the school system.
“These plans will help ensure our students have resources necessary to retain the essential academic skills/mastered standards in order to continue instructional units when we return to normal school operations after a (potential) school system closure,” he said. “This week has proven that news and information associated with the virus is changing by the hour. Moving forward, we will do our best to adjust plans accordingly to effectively and efficiently meet the challenges that arise associated with the threat that the COVID-19 presents. Principals will assist in relaying information at the school level when new information becomes available.”
The district leadership in the Boaz City Schools System has also been working on a plan over the last few weeks to combat COVID-19. Boaz Superintendent Todd Haynie said the safety, security and health of the students, faculty and staff are “paramount.”
“Although there are a lot of unknowns pertaining to this illness, there are steps we have taken as a district to help us as an organization,” he said. “1. Checking for daily information and guidance from the ALSDE, ADPH and CDC regarding COVID-19 and its possible effects on our state, community and school district.
“2. Encouraging students, faculty, staff and the larger community to follow best practice protocols for preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Our lead nurse sent home information earlier in the school week reminding everyone of the best practices recommended by the CDC. Our information also included basic facts on COVID-19.
“3. Our district custodial staff has been tasked with the continual deep cleaning of classrooms and schools. Our district has a specialized disinfecting machine that will continue to be used throughout the district, as well as on our buses.
“4. Our school leadership has created emergency instructional plans in the event of a school closure due to COVID-19. We will make use of the technology, as well as provide other traditional means of instructional delivery, based on the individual needs of the students.
“5. We will continue to monitor our school attendance rate in each school and will make the best informed decisions we can to ensure the overall safety of our students, faculty and staff.”
In February, Marshall Christian School was forced to close due to a high percentage of flu cases. During that time, Marshall Christian School Principal Tiffany Hollowell said the school implemented “ELearning,” or online learning, to make up missed days. The plan is to continue to develop those online lessons in the event of a closure due to the coronavirus.
“With the global spread of Coronavirus, I have stayed current with CDC guidelines,” she said, “also attending webinars focused on closure and maintaining learning.”
As of Thursday, Hollowell said that had been previously scheduled to Washington, DC., was still on, but the school would be monitoring the situation daily.
“WorldStrides, the company guiding our trip will allow us to reschedule our trip in the event museum closures impacts the trip,” she said.
The Schools of Guntersville issued a response to continued fear over COVID-19. While there are many unknowns, Superintendent Brett Stanton encouraged students’ families to “take the same steps to protect against the coronavirus that help prevent everyday illness like the common cold or flu.”
State Superintendent Eric Mackey said Thursday that if a case of COVID-19 was confirmed at a school, the school would be closed for 24-48 hours to be cleaned. The next steps would be decided in conjunction with the ADPH and the local school system involved.