Area superintendents said their systems will use several internet platforms, such as Google Classroom, as well as paper-and-pencil packets to teach students when instruction resumes for Alabama schools this week.
Public schools began closing the third week of March following an order from Gov. Kay Ivey, and students will not return to school facilities for the remainder of the academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ivey announced a stay-at-home order for the state on Friday, but Alabama schools Superintendent Eric Mackey said in an email to schools Friday afternoon the educational system is exempt from the order.
“The order issued today will not impact the continuity plans the local education agencies have put in action," Mackey wrote. "Our staff is working diligently from their homes to ensure there is no interruption in our services as we continue to devise new and innovative approaches to learning.”
For the online teaching, core subjects will be the main focus, the local superintendents said. No standardized testing will be administered for the remainder of the school year. Paper packets can be picked up at the schools during the meal pickups as well, school officials said.
While the Class of 2020 students have been disappointed missing out on their final months of high school, area school systems said the seniors in good standing will be considered graduates.
Seniors not on track will be given the opportunity for credit recovery immediately, rather than waiting for summer programs.
The systems all said they plan to hold a commencement ceremony for the seniors once the pandemic is cleared.
“It might be July, August, or even in December of the next school year,” said Bill Hopkins, Morgan County superintendent. “We’re committed to honoring our graduates.”
Most students will spend less than three hours a day in a virtual classroom, the superintendents said, and then will work on assignments. Morgan County students will spend no more than 90 minutes a day and some as few 45 minutes online, according to Hopkins.
Decatur City Schools Deputy Superintendent Dwight Satterfield said teachers will be reaching out to the students and parents Monday and Tuesday and possibly making a few assignments.
“Everyone will be virtual learning except for pre-K through grade 2,” he said. “Right now, Monday and Tuesday will be like the first day of school or the first day of a new semester.”
He said the high schools will work with an A-B block schedule and focus on core subjects such as math, science, English and history.
“How much they’ll need online instruction is up to the teachers,” Satterfield said. “Students won’t have a teacher online all day. It won’t be online with a teacher 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and teachers will be available to students for questions about assignments.”
He said electives such as fine arts and band could be addressed in a couple of weeks.
Decatur students in grades 3-12 will work with Chromebooks supplied by the system and pre-K through second grade students will have paper packets with assignments, Satterfield said.
Dee Dee Jones, superintendent of Hartselle City Schools, said all but 22 of the district’s 3,522 students will be receiving online instructions through Chromebooks the schools provided.
“We’re ready to go,” she said. “The teachers will reach out to the students and parents through Google Classroom and Google Meet platforms. The students will be given different assignments on Google Classroom.”
She said on Mondays and Wednesdays students will receive instruction on math and social studies. Tuesdays and Thursdays teachers will cover English and science.
“Fridays are for teachers of electives and other content to teach new material and for students to complete other work,” Jones said in an email. “Teachers of electives and other content also will be placed into a Group A or Group B and will have other days, in addition to Fridays, based on their group.”
Jones said some Hartselle students could receive assignments Monday.
Morgan County Schools
In Morgan County, Hopkins said about 1,500 of the district’s 7,400 students will work with paper packets with the remaining on internet platforms.
He said teachers will communicate with parents and students no later than Tuesday about assignments and classroom directives.
“Wednesday we will start doing school recovery instructions,” he said.
Hopkins said Mondays will be dedicated to math, Tuesdays science, Wednesday language arts, Thursdays social studies and Fridays remediation and electives.
He said pre-K through fourth grade will be online about 30 to 45 minutes a day for classroom instruction. Grades 5-8 will have between 45 to 60 minutes a day and grades 9-12 will have between 60 and 90 minutes a day.
“We’re trying to cover the standards,” he said. “There is no way teachers can teach class online the entire school day. … They can do without reading Chaucer, so we will continue the core subjects. … If a student in math is having Algebra II next year, we will have to prepare that student for that.”
Limestone County Schools
Brad Lewis, executive director for curriculum instruction for Limestone County Schools, said instructional plans will be finalized by Tuesday and teachers will be calling each student. “They’ll be wanting to know what the needs are,” Lewis said. “If you receive a call from the school, please answer. This will help determine if you need a paper packet or can do work online.”
He said teachers will provide assignments, announcements, resources and materials digitally by grade level, mostly via Google Classroom, Zoom, Class DoJo, Remind and/or Facebook.
“Students will complete assignments online or submit a screenshot of the completed assignment,” he said. “There will be no need to print materials or physically turn in assignments if you have a device at home or digitally.” He said those students working on the paper format will have the same assignments.
In a letter to parents on the school website Friday, Lewis said paper packets became available for pickup at the schools’ entrances Friday. He said the district’s 8,900 students are expected to begin work Tuesday.
He said the packets can be picked up at designated bins at their schools. High school students will have their names on their packets. Elementary students will pick up a packet pertaining to their grade level.
“Students will complete paper-and-pencil assignments and turn in all of their work later in May,” he said.
Lewis added the third nine weeks report cards haven’t been sent out because of the COVID-19 shutdown and that the report cards may be sent as PDFs via email.
Athens City Schools
Athens City Schools will hold a spirit week beginning Monday to get the students re-acclimated to classwork. The system hasn’t disclosed its virtual learning plans.
ACS’s traditional students in grades pre-K-5 will use either SeeSaw or Google Classroom internet platform as their online classroom, the school website said. Teachers will post an assignment list and individual assignments in their online classroom. Assignment lists will include expectations and due dates.
In grades 6-12, Athens Middle School and Athens High School students will use either Canvas or Google Classroom as their online classroom.
“We are kicking off eLearning with spirit week next week,” said Beth Patton, ACS assistant superintendent. “This gives us time to be sure we are in contact and connecting with all students and families. Information concerning learning expectations from April 13 forward will be publicly shared early next week.”
Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher with questions on the internet teaching platforms.
Patton said the school year is scheduled to end May 21 but that date could change, depending on the pandemic.
Lawrence County Schools
In rural Lawrence County, where internet access is quite limited, Superintendent Jon Bret Smith said his district will be using paper packets for assignments. He said beginning April 13, the district’s 4,650 students will be given two weeks of work in the packets.
“If the students want to do all of their work in a couple of days and the rest of the time will be free for them,” he said. “However, I encourage all students and parents to take these assignments seriously. They will be graded.”
Students who need personal items in their school lockers are urged to contact their schools for a means of acquiring the items.
Lewis said in a social media video to parents and students, “Personal belongings can’t be dealt with at this time. Books and personal equipment will be picked up later on. Hopefully, we can reopen our facilities before June 5.”