Some Alabama school districts begin to relax COVID-19 restrictions after drop in cases

Coronavirus

BLOUNT COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Some Alabama school districts are relaxing COVID-19 restrictions after reporting a drop in positive cases among students and staff members.

Beginning Tuesday, Blount County Schools students were no longer required to wear a face-covering in the classroom.

Superintendent Rodney Green said data allowed leaders to feel comfortable removing the requirement.

“We’ve gone from 210 cases in August to 29 as of yesterday,” said Green.

To comply with health guidelines, masks will still be required on school buses. Green said the district will continue to follow best practices to avoid another spike.

“The delta variant is still a major concern. We still have people in our community that are dealing with the long-term effects of COVID,” said Green.

Other school districts must also make decisions about expiring mask requirements. Tuscaloosa City School leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday night to discuss the issue with the school board.

Wednesday morning, Tuscaloosa City School leaders announced the mask mandate will be extended through October 20th.

The Talladega County Schools Superintendent recently told parents that infection data would be reviewed on October 8th to determine the future of a mask policy in the Talladega County School District.

Talladega City Students return to traditional learning

Next week, students in the Talladega City School District will return to five-day in-person learning for the first time since the start of the school year.

The city board of education voted to move to remote learning in August after rising cases in the community.

“Students may have been exposed, whether it was at school, they were exposed and were taking a lot of these things back home and exposing their families and that was something we definitely wanted to look at,” said Superintendent Dr. Quentin J. Lee.

After two weeks of remote learning, Lee said students moved to blended learning in September and were only in the building two days per week.

Beginning Oct. 12, all students will return to traditional learning.

“We made the decision that because the numbers were so low, we were able to report less than 5 cases of COVID-19 district-wide, that we wanted to try the five days back again. We’re closing a lot of those instructional gaps with our students,” Lee said.

Lee said teachers have been spending the past few weeks receiving additional professional development that will allow them to better serve students either in person or virtually. Masks will be required.

At Zora Ellis Junior High School, Principal Marvin Moten said instructions will allow students to spread out and spend more individual time with their teachers.

“We are able to get in those smaller groups. Separate them out and have one on one time with those kids at individual times. So as we transition back to five days a week, we’re going to make sure that we practice social distancing, that we are wearing the masks,” Moten said.

The school has a machine to sanitize the building. Shields are also in place around students’ desks to add an extra layer of protection.

Assistant Principal Brittany Johnson believes mitigation techniques will keep positive cases down and allow students to continue learning.

“Having them in the building, that is going to be crucial for our test scores, our support systems, and also overarching for our students to provide them with the best education they can receive,” said Johnson.

Talladega City Schools Superintendent Quentin Lee asked parents to reach out to educators with questions or concerns about COVID policies.

“We feel that with everything we have in place, that it is an appropriate time to come back so we can continue to close those instructional gaps,” said Lee.

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