The continuing spread of COVID-19 throughout the state of Alabama has raised questions about how schools plan to go into this 2021 spring semester, which begins Tuesday.
Several schools have altered their plans from their fall semester operations, while some are continuing with the same conditions they had before the holiday.
Particularly given the new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 that has made its way into the United States, safety precautions and social distancing measures are a top priority. Read more and see list of school systems.
The University of Alabama launched its first Black student-led magazine this semester. Nineteen Fifty-Six focuses on issues minority students face on campus and in everyday life. Read more.
Following the release of a new dashboard, state education officials are optimistic about the number of coronavirus cases in Alabama schools. But challenges remain. Read more.
When the National Report Card, an assessment of educational progress, came out for 2019, the results were not great for Alabama.
Alabama students in fourth and eighth grades lag behind the country in the overall reading and math scores. Worse, average reading scores for Alabama students actually went down from where they were the last time the assessment was done — just two years earlier.
And race and ethnic gaps remain evident in the scores, with white students scoring close to the national average in reading and math, followed by Hispanic and black students, in that order.
Help is on the way for remote learners who have had little to no access to Wi-Fi. Meeting in Bessemer Thursday, the Jefferson County Commission amended the Cares Act Coronavirus Relief Fund subgrant agreement with the Jefferson County Board of Education to award an additional $4,648,600 to expand broadband capacity to reach students taking classes virtually. Read more.
Birmingham city school students will return to in-person classes two days a week beginning Nov. 9. Read more.
As metro Birmingham school systems learn to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, many of them are changing back to traditional class schedules, or at least something closer to it.
In general, many systems that began with only virtual learning to start the year already have moved toward allowing students back on campus, at least part time. The Jefferson County School System, for instance, is in the midst of a staggered plan to get students back to school in person full time.
Others plan to reassess their schedules at the end of the first nine-week grading period, late this month. Read more and look up your school district.
Birmingham city schools have a new superintendent this fall. Longtime educator Mark Sullivan officially took over the role last month. He’s the district’s fourth superintendent in the past decade but Sullivan is no stranger to the system. Many hope that will keep him on the job longer than his predecessors.
Taking on a leadership role in the middle of a pandemic requires some adjustments. Students and teachers continue virtual learning, but that hasn’t prevented Sullivan from making school visits.
On a recent day, he walked down a hallway at Birmingham’s Phillips Academy. Sullivan is here to check in with school administrators. These are halls he knows well. “I used to be principal here … it’s hard to believe,” he said. “These hallways used to be filled with students.”
The Hoover City School District has altered a decision to return students to classrooms on a full-time basis because of a turn for the worse in local COVID-19 data.
Instead, parents of children in fifth grade and younger who opted for in-school education will attend classes four days a week beginning Monday, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the system. That’s up from the two days a week that those students attend now. But those in grades six and higher will stay with the staggered two-day schedule — a reversal of a previous decision by the system to return to in-school classes every day. Parents who opted for virtual learning for their children may continue using that system.
Jefferson County Schools will begin accepting students back onto campuses in just more than a week.
Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin announced on Facebook Thursday that the system would resume traditional learning starting Sept. 21. Grades will have staggered starts on the in-person learning. Students will go to class two days a week at first. Wednesdays will be set aside for remote learning for children and cleaning schools for staff. After two weeks, they will transition to five days a week on campus.
Students who want to may continue with virtual learning. Read more.