On Friday, June 26, 2020, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) released their plan for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan was compiled to assist local districts as they develop their local plans for the fall. The roadmap provides essential information, guidance recommendations, and other considerations for schools on wellness, instruction & technology, and operations & facilities. They also compiled a short parent guide. Below we’ve linked to the guidance available on the ALSDE website and highlighted a few important questions and their answers.
The full 46-page plan for superintendents and district leaders is linked here.
The brief parent guide and FAQ is linked here.
Watch the full press conference featuring State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris presenting the plan and answering press questions here.
Selected Questions about the Roadmap for Reopening Schools:
>Are schools opening for the fall semester of the 2020-2021 school year?
Yes, schools will be open for the fall. It is up to local school districts to determine how and when campuses will reopen safely for the 2020-2021 school year based on the status of the virus in their local community. Future decisions to increase or ease restrictions may be made by the Governor and State Health Officer if the state’s public health situation changes. (Page 4 of the full guide)
>What is next for school districts as they prepare for the fall?
According to Supt. Dr. Eric Mackey during the press conference, local school districts must begin working on their specific plans for (1) virtual learning, (2) training teachers for virtual learning, (3) cleaning and sanitation plans, and (4) ordering and managing supplies. There is currently no deadline for school districts to release their plans for the 2020-2021 school year.
>When will school start for students?
Each local district will set their own start date and schedule, as they do every year.
>Will students be required to attend in-person school in the fall?
No. All students will be offered a virtual learning option for students who do not attend in-person. School districts will develop a virtual learning plan that best suits their needs. These options could include both a fully virtual option and a blended learning option (meaning, students could be attending in-person some days and virtual learning for other days). (Page 6 of full guide)
>What will virtual school look like for students?
The Alabama State Department of Education is offering a statewide virtual instruction program for local districts to use. However, each local school district will develop a plan for virtual learning that may include other local options.
>What will in-person school look like for students?
The Alabama State Department of Education has released suggestions and guidelines for schools to follow regarding class sizes, social distancing, cleaning protocols, and in-person instruction. Each local district will evaluate their facilities and determine the safest design. You can find a few of the guidelines on pages 11-15 of the full guide.
>How many students will be attending school in-person in the fall?
According to the Alabama State Department of Education, parents were polled about the likelihood of sending their children to in-person school. About 15% of parents statewide said that they will not send their children in-person. This number varies by school district–some districts will have more students learning remotely than others. (Supt. Dr. Eric Mackey answered this question during the press conference).
>Will teachers whose health may be particularly at-risk be required to teach in-person?
Local school districts are required to deal with these inquiries on a case-by-case basis because they are employed by the local school district. There is no statewide policy on this from the Alabama State Department of Education. (Supt. Dr. Eric Mackey answered this question during the press conference).
>What if students do not have access to reliable internet at home?
This remains a significant equity concern. Local school districts are continuing to take inventory of how many students are without the remote learning resources they need. The state is also providing some grants to expand broadband access.
>Will districts lose their per-pupil funding for each student that chooses to partake in remote learning?
No. According to the Alabama State Department of Education, school districts will still receive per pupil funding for students enrolled in virtual learning courses at their schools.
>Will extracurricular activities for students be allowed?
Yes, the Alabama State Department of Education is working with local districts to provide best practices for extracurricular activities and sports. (Page 2 of the Parent Guide)