Trussville City Schools taking different approach to classroom safety during COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — For Trussville City Schools superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill, there’s always a lot of excitement and apprehension entering a new school year.

But with all the adjustments the district has made due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Neill said those emotions are more pronounced this year.

“It has been a mad dash to get organized,” Neill said. “And we’re really ready to get started.”

One-third of the district’s students started school Wednesday. The other two-thirds will start either Thursday or Friday, depending on their last names. It’s a staggered start that will allow students to get acclimated to new safety procedures while remaining socially distant. This week, teachers will make sure every student has a laptop and all other necessary supplies. They’ll also assign desks so each student can sit in the same seat throughout the semester. Parents will decide which learning option they want for their child.

“There are many, many different kinds of family dynamics, and there are students who really need to stay in that virtual environment,” Neill said. “There are other family dynamics that really require a need for face-to-face instruction.”

Those are two of the options parents will have this year. There’s also a blended approach that offers students the opportunity to attend in-person classes two days per week and learn virtually from home the other three.

The district also is using learning labs, which allow students to learn virtually while on campus. Schools will use existing spaces, such as libraries or auditoriums, as virtual classrooms. Students will see their teacher on a screen, and the teacher will be in another classroom down the hall in case in-person interaction is needed.

Neill said the learning labs help maximize space, while maintaining proper social distancing.

“We had to lower class sizes in order to do what we’re doing,” she said. “That was the main change.”

Desks in learning labs and regular classrooms are spaced 6 feet apart. Schools also have Plexiglas shields for use when close interaction is needed. Neill said the district is following guidelines in the State Department of Education’s Roadmap for Reopening and the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Back-to-School Toolkit. They also consulted with the Jefferson County Health Department and implemented strategies suggested by Gov. Kay Ivey’s office.


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