TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) — Two school districts in east Alabama are adjusting their learning routines this week because of the rise in COVID cases.
Beginning Tuesday, students in Talladega City Schools will transition to E-Learning for the remainder of the week.
“Talladega City Schools remains committed to making decisions in the best interest of our students, employees, and the city of Talladega. We are still in a pandemic. We must monitor the rate of transmission in our community,” said Superintendent Dr. Quentin Lee.
Lee already started the winter semester with a face mask requirement. Despite the precautions, leaders felt it was in the best interest to avoid contact until cases subside.
Talladega High School Principal Darius Williams said teachers will have open Zoom sessions after lunch each day.
“They will leave their Zoom links active and live, so if students have any questions, or parents have any questions or technical issues, they will be able to hop on those live links and ask their questions,” said Williams.
Buses will be equipped with internet at several school sites for students without access. Williams hopes the time away will be beneficial to safety.
“It is our hope that it will give our staff members the opportunity to recover,” said Williams.
Some parents told CBS 42 they think the decision is for the best.
“I am not honestly the biggest fan of E-Learning, but I know that it is necessary and they are doing the right thing. I fully support them, because you have to keep the kids safe and then the teachers, they have families as well so they have to be safe,” said Gabrielle Morris.
Morris has two children in TCS. She’s been particularly concerned with the recent rise in cases after the holidays and would like to see students return on alternating days so they can still receive the benefits of social interaction.
“One of my children has a compromised immune system, she had a liver transplant, so we have to be extra careful because it could really be dangerous to her, so you worry a lot,” said Morris.
According to TCS, the Child Nutrition Program will offer four days of breakfast and lunches for pickup at school buildings Wednesday morning from 10:30 until 11:30.
Graham Elementary School students will need to pick up at Zora Ellis Junior High School.
Sylacauga City Schools return to in-person learning
In southern Talladega County, students in the Sylacauga City School District returned to the classroom Monday after COVID cases forced a transition to E-Learning last week.
“Our main concern was having enough staff on hand to teach face to face and having enough students to teach,” said Superintendent Dr. Michele Eller.
Eller said recent numbers and revised CDC guidance allowed for a safe return with a mask requirement.
“This week I will track staff and students. I would just tell parents if your students are sick, keep them at home. Teachers are still providing all lessons virtually,” said Eller.
In addition to the concern for students, Eller has also been mindful of staff members who have been sick or had to quarantine. It has been difficult to find substitutes, she said.
“We have six teachers out at Indian Valley today, and we were only able to find four subs, so we had to be real creative with our staff and our building to ensure every student was taken care of,” said Eller.
With students and staff members gone last week, Eller said the district took full advantage of the time and space.
“We did some heightened cleanings in our buildings and on our buses and it really gave our teachers an opportunity to practice effective remote teaching,” Eller continued. “Last week was the best thing we could have done. I know we made the right call on that.”
SCS will require masks for at least the next two weeks. Cases will be monitored by district leaders for any possible changes to COVID protocols.