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Madison City Schools release re-entry plan for upcoming school year

MADISON – Madison City Schools (MCS) released their plans for reopening schools this morning, which include offering traditional and virtual classes, utilizing face masks and social distancing practices.

The school district Thursday amended their 2020-2021 school calendar to reflect a later start date, from Aug, 5 to Aug. 10, with a staggered first day of school over a three-day period. Read related story here.

MCS posted their re-entry plans to the district’s website Friday morning, along with a FAQ section.

“Our plan is built on the latest information from the ALSDE, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), The Madison County Health Officer and numerous publications from other governmental and community agencies,” said MCS superintendent Ed Nichols. “The MCS Reentry Plan is designed to prioritize the health and safety of our students and employees as we open our school buildings and deliver instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.”

Nichols said students will be offered a choice between in-person classes or virtual, but not a blended situation. He did say, however, that adjustments for a student who contracts COVID-19 will be made, and students can choose to switch at the end of a nine-week period for pre-k through 5th grade, and at the end of the semester for 6th grade through 12th grade.

There is a Learning Intent Form to specify whether a student intends to attend traditional classes in Fall or opt for virtual learning. Click here to access it. “It is vital to our planning that parents and guardians complete the Learning Intent Form for their student,” Nichols said. “This information will help us to organize classes and develop schedules.”

Also, schools will utilize a combination of required face coverings, social distancing steps and plexiglass shields. Masks will be provided to both students and staff. Transportation services will continue to be offered with bus riders and drivers required to wear face coverings.

“As we begin this year, I know that many of us have concerns, questions and fears about the reentry of school and the effects of Covid-19. Let me assure you that our team is working diligently to answer questions and develop procedures to address your many concerns,” Nichols said. “Additional information and details will be shared as more protocols are developed in the next few weeks.”

For a detailed look at the Madison City Schools re-entry plan, click here.

“I can assure that all of us in the school district are working non-stop to have procedures and schedules in place during this fluid time of Covid-19,” Nichols added. “I promise we will do everything possible to have a safe and successful school year.”

Below is a list of questions and answers the school district provided:

1. When will Madison City students report back to school?

A: The new calendar moves the start date back one week and sets staggered starts for school-based learners based on the first letter of student LAST names:
A-J students ONLY: Monday, Aug. 10.
K-R students ONLY: Tuesday, Aug. 11
S-Z students ONLY: Wednesday, Aug. 12.
ALL (school-based) STUDENTS report Thursday, Aug. 13, and so forth for the remainder of the school calendar.

2: When will virtual students begin?

A. Virtual students should watch for information from their school on a virtual orientation session that will explain details.

3. Will the length of the school day be the same/normal as last year for school-based students?

A: Same. Schools will determine staggered entry and release times by grade, class, or bus numbers along with social distance markings for pickup.

4. Will there still be a fall and spring break?
A: All breaks/holidays remain the same as in the previously adopted 2020-2021 calendar, including the May 17 graduation and May 26 end date for students.

5. Do Parents have to choose between traditional or online school only, or is there a blended option?

A. The choice is school-based (traditional) or virtual. However, if school-based is chosen and circumstances change for a student due to COVID-19, there will be temporary, online instruction until the student can return to class. Regardless of your choice, you MUST register/re-enroll your student at his/her home school. Virtual devices will be provided for students, based on need as indicated in a parent survey.

6. Will students under the virtual option be able to receive special education and 504 services?

A. Yes, as determined by each student’s individual plan.

7. Once a learning option is chosen (school-based or virtual), can my student change to the other?

A: Students may make changes to their learning option choices at the end of the nine weeks for PreK thru 5th grade, and at the end of the semester for grades 6-12. The learning intent form is being sent to parents/guardians this week that must be completed by Friday, July 24, by 5 p.m. It should be noted that all elective courses may not be available as a virtual learning option.

8. Will face coverings be required of students and staff?

A. Schools will utilize a combination of required face coverings, social distancing steps and plexiglass shields. Masks will be provided to both students and staff. As of July 7, the Madison County Health Officer issued an order that masks should be worn in most public places. Under clarification and guidance from the MCHO, all students, employees, and visitors within school buildings must wear a face covering at all times regardless of social distancing until further notice from the MCHO. If/when this mask order is lifted, MCS will work to mitigate the spread through a combination of face coverings, face shields, plexiglass and social distancing.

9. Does this mean my student must wear a mask the whole school day?

A. We understand that school children would have difficulty wearing a face covering all day. School leadership will develop schedules for periodic breaks from masks.

10. Will six feet of social distancing be enforced in school buildings?

A: No. With our current enrollment numbers, we will not be able to guarantee that six feet of social distancing will be maintained at all times. At this time we will social distance to the extent that we can, as well as provide masks to mitigate risks.

11. Will bus transportation be available?

A: Transportation services will continue to be offered and at the present time bus riders and drivers will be required to wear face coverings. Due to the number of students that rely on transportation and limited capacity of our transportation system, six feet of separation cannot be accommodated, but masks will be required.

12. What will be the cleaning regime for schools/buses/facilities?

A: Surface and deep cleaning/sanitizing will be done regularly on all campuses and buses. MCS will teach and reinforce proper hygiene measures such as handwashing, covering coughs and face coverings. Signs will be posted throughout facilities and social distancing markers will be placed where necessary. Limits will be placed on non-essential visitors and activities involving external groups or organizations.

 

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