Elementary school in Pell City closed for the week due to COVID-19

Local News

PELL CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — Students at Iola Roberts Elementary School in Pell City will switch to blended learning for the next few days after several teachers were exposed to COVID-19.

According to Pell City Schools Superintendent Dr. James Martin, only a handful of people have tested positive.

“We actually had 15 teachers that were out due to exposure, and some of those exposures were due to family members in their household that may have been affected,” said Martin.

Pell City recently started posting coronavirus infection and exposure numbers on its website. So far, around 200 students in the entire district were quarantined according to the data.

The online COVID tracker on the district website estimated around 5 percent of the students in the school system were in quarantine.

Martin said leaders also noticed an uptick in exposures among teachers at Iola Roberts.

“It was getting to the point where staffing was getting very difficult due to the exposure rate,” said Martin.

Students will not return to Iola Roberts until October 14th. In the meantime, learning will continue online and through work packets.

“They’re doing packets, primarily with some of our younger grades. Our older grades are taking home chrome books and doing blended learning through that,” said Martin.

Martin said it has also been difficult to find substitute teachers during the pandemic. Parents were informed of the switch to blended learning this week.

“I think it was a safe decision. My son’s class was already on quarantine before the decision was made to close the whole school, so I think with so many classes being out from exposure, they just closed the whole school to keep us all safe,” said Ariana Oden.

Oden said blended learning is a bit different, but praised teachers helping students and parents navigate through challenges during the pandemic.

“For me it is pretty easy, my mom works from home, so I don’t have to worry about childcare like other parents. School work is different, because I don’t do school work until I get off, but teachers are always on remind, ready to answer any questions that I have if I do need help,” said Oden.

While students are out, Martin said school buildings will be cleaned.

“We are in the process of right now, doing a deep cleaning there, because we were going to use those two days of e-learning next week to do that in all of the schools, but this gives us a little bit of a jumpstart,” said Martin.

COVID-19 data will be updated on the district website each Friday, according to Martin. You can find that here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.