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City school board makes plan for teaching if COVID worsens

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Super Hill

Anniston School Superintendent D. Ray Hill

If the number of COVID cases continues to rise, the Anniston public school system is ready with a plan to teach kids either remotely or in a hybrid situation. 

During an Anniston Board of Education work session Thursday night, school officials discussed the results of a questionnaire which asked parents a number of questions about alternatives to in-person learning.

According to Tiesha Rasheed, human resources and accounting coordinator for the school system, the majority of parents, 77 percent, want the school system to teach kids remotely while 66 percent favor a hybrid model schedule. The hybrid model — for 3rd- through 12th-grade students — was used in the spring semester and is a mix of in-person learning and remote learning. Students would be categorized in an “A” or “B” group and their in-person learning at the school would be on staggered days.

  Rasheed said that the student body would be grouped based on their last name and the first group would attend school on Monday through Tuesday; on Wednesday the school would be cleaned, then the second group would attend school on Thursday and Friday.  

Pre-K through 2nd grade would attend school the entire week, said Rasheed, because COVID cases have been in the upper grades.

“It's been hitting hard with the 4th, 5th and a lot of 6th-grader students,” said Rasheed.

According to the survey, 93 percent of parents have internet access to facilitate online learning and 92 percent of parents are prepared to ensure the distant learning process takes place with their children.

Anniston School Superintendent D. Ray Hill said that COVID-19 cases are still happening in the schools.

“My concern right now is what’s going to be the after-effect of Labor Day,” Hill said.

From Aug. 9 — the first day of school — to Wednesday, Sept. 15, there has been a total of 93 positive COVID cases in the student population and 1,158 students have been quarantined. Thirteen school staff have tested positive and 12 school staff have been quarantined.  

After the work session Hill was optimistic about the future but wanted everyone to be prepared if the COVID cases rise.

“The past couple of weeks haven't been too bad for us,” Hill said. A challenge to the school system, according to Hill, is finding substitute teachers when they are needed to step in. 

When school started in August, if a student tested positive for COVID then the entire class was sent home to quarantine — a practice that Hill said was above and beyond CDC guidelines. Now if a student has been exposed to COVID at school, a letter is sent home informing the parents, who then have the option of letting their child stay home to quarantine or attend school.

Hill said that so far, no parents have kept their child home who may have been exposed to COVID. 

During the formal meeting the board unanimously voted to approve a five-year capital plan of improvements which will be sent to the state.

Ken Goble, maintenance lead for the school system, said the state requires that a system have a five-year capital plan on projects that it plans to do. 

“It doesn't mean you have to do it, you can take number one this year and move it to 21 next year if you wanted to. We try to prioritize what is the most needed is how we do it, we plan to do everyone of them,” said Goble.

Some of the projects include:

  

— New fire curtain for the auditorium at the high school

— Repaving parking lot at Anniston High School

— 110 HVAC units for the school district

— Interior and exterior LED lighting system for the school district 

— Replacement visitor bleachers at the football stadium 

— Roof work at Anniston High School

— Painting hallways at Golden Springs Elementary

— Exterior work at Anniston High School

— Lights for the high school baseball field

— Anniston Middle School gym floor renovations

— Kilby House renovations

— General upkeep and repair districtwide

— Repair the soffit at the Anniston Middle School