Hoover, Shelby Schools Planning Moves to 5-Day-a-Week Classes

Classes in Hoover schools will have more children in them later this month when students start going to classes every weekday, rather than attending on alternate days. (Source: Hoover City Schools)

In-person learning at Hoover City and Shelby County schools will go to 5-day-a-week formats later this month.

In each case, the move is a continuation of plans that had been in place for the year. Spokespersons for each system noted the state recommendation that students in K5 schools experience on-campus learning 5 days a week, with the schedules of older students being staggered.

“We chose to stagger K through 12 for the first four weeks,” Hoover schools spokesman Jason Gaston said. “What we sent to our parents last night as a reminder, was that September 21 is the day that it looks like any (K-12) students who are currently on that staggered in-person schedule will shift to the additional three days per week.

“They’re already coming to school two days a week, so they’ll go three more days per week,” he said. “Keep in mind, all the virtual students still get to stay on that option.”

About three-fourths of the Hoover School system lies in Jefferson County and about a quarter in Shelby County.

“We’re watching the average daily COVID cases each week to determine if we’re lessening the cases per 100,000 in the counties,” Gaston said, noting that the desired metric of 5% or fewer positive results from tests conducted is a goal and not etched in stone.

“We’re still following the science; we’re still looking at numbers. September 21 …  is the day we will shift back to five days a week for the in-person students if the numbers are still tracking in the right direction.”

Shelby County Schools

Shelby County Schools spokeswoman Cindy Warner also said shifting to 5 days a week “was our plan all along.” She said the initial hope was to open the system in its Back Together Phase, but then the Alabama Department of Public Health came out with its guidelines and protocols.

“At the time, our numbers of cases in Shelby County had us in their higher risk category, Warner said. “Shelby County has since, I believe, moved out of that high-risk category with ADPH. Granted that fluctuates, but essentially what we have determined is that we have a very small number of positive cases in our school district.”

As of Sept. 14, all K-12 students will be going back five days a week, as school officials had hoped.

The Shelby County Schools spokeswoman said fewer than 0.7% of the system’s more than 20,000 students have tested positive for the virus.

“We feel like the students are going to be safe with us,” she said. “We have implemented a lot of different protocols and enhanced cleaning, really encouraging the students to wash their hands, use hand sanitizers and wear their mask (and) maintain as much social distance as possible.

“In many respects, we feel like they’re almost safer with us than they are being left to their own devices, if you will, out in the community,” Warner continued. “We recognize that parents have to work and there’s a lot of instances where we feel like the remote learning option is very, very difficult for some children to grasp. Then you’ve got kids that are still kind of hanging out with each other.”

Warner said contact tracing indicated that positive tests among Shelby County school students linked to contact in the community and not necessarily at school.

“We know that kids and families have gone back to somewhat living their lives as normal so we need the school to get back to some sense of normalcy,” she said, acknowledging that this normal will look different.

“We are trying to put safety measures in place that are going to protect our students and our staff members. We’re not necessarily opening the doors wide open for it just to operate under some sense of irresponsibility, and that we’re going to still have extra, extra measures in place to make sure that we maintain a very safe environment for our kids.”