HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Middle and elementary school students in Hoover City Schools are back in class today after more than two months of learning virtually.
The return follows a decrease in positive COVID-19 cases among the district’s students and teachers over the last few weeks, according to district leaders. Seeing that data and consulting with health experts made them feel comfortable returning to in-person learning.
“We are very excited to be welcoming the students back,” said Dr. Chris Robbins, principal of Berry Middle School.
The safety procedures, according to Robbins, are the same as what schools used when students were last allowed on campus in the fall. Masks are required, and desks are spaced out. Robbins said staff will sanitize classrooms and common areas regularly. Each school may have additional procedures based on its specific needs.
“Safety has always been and continues to be the priority,” Robbins said.
Virtual learning remains an option for parents who choose it. This means schools will be responsible for education two groups: those that chose in-person learning and those that will continue learning virtually. Robbins said they’re making that work by dividing teachers into two groups, as well.
“What we’ve been able to do is dedicate staff fully to virtual learning and then staff fully to face-to-face learning,” he said. “And so our teachers who are involved in virtual learning and virtual teaching, they received specialized professional development starting back in the summertime.”
Robbins is happy just to be able to offer in-person learning again.
“We feel like on-campus learning is the best fit for many of our students here on campus,” he said. “And so, to the greatest extent that we can maximize on-campus instruction, that’s exactly what we want to do.”
District leaders hope to allow high school students to return to in-person learning in early or mid-February.