ACS Back to School Information & FAQ for 2020-2021

  • We are so excited to begin the 2020-2021 school year! We know many challenges lie ahead, and we look forward to working through those with you and providing a safe and instructionally sound plan for reopening Athens City Schools.

    Click here to review the ACS Roadmap to Reopening back to school plan.

    Click here for the Back to School Selection Form: Traditional or Remote.

    Here are some important things to know:

    • School will start on August 17 with 2 options:
      • Traditional (face to face)
      • Remote (students work online from home and teachers regularly check-in and provide virtual instruction) *This is not a commitment for the entire school year. We will establish checkpoints where families can choose to return to traditional learning.  Full-time remote instruction will require a greater daily time commitment than was experienced during the last quarter of 2019-2020.

    Note: For students who choose traditional learning, a blended opportunity will also be in place. This will enable students to transition between traditional and remote and back again, which will be crucial if we need to close a classroom or a school for cleaning and disinfecting and/or if your child needs to stay home for an extended amount of time.

    • We will continue to work with families to determine individual needs. 
    • We all must work together to help ensure safety by following guidance from the ADPH and CDC.
      • We ask that parents check student temperatures and do not send them to school if 100.4 or greater. Parents should monitor for symptoms daily, including cough, congestion, shortness of breath, or gastrointestinal symptoms.
      • Any positives should be kept home from school.
      • Our attendance policy will be revised and shared at a later date.
    • Bus services will continue.
      • Students must not enter a bus if exhibiting symptoms as noted above.
      • Additional safety measures will be in place.

    Safety and wellness come first! As information from public health leadership changes, our procedures may need to change. We know you have many questions, and our goal is to provide answers as accurately and timely as possible so you can confidently make the best decision for your family. Submit your question using the Google Form found on this page. 

    We will ask families to decide if remote learning will be desired by July 24.

    Click here to choose traditional or remote learning by July 24: Back to School Selection Form: Traditional or Remote 


     

Back to School FAQ

  • Updated July 19, 2020 


    STUDENT SAFETY & COVID 

    Will student be required to wear masks at school?

    • Unless mandated by a government entity, it is recommended that facial coverings be worn when you are within six feet of a person from another household.  
    • Face coverings/masks must cover your nose and mouth. 
    • Students may bring a facial covering from home. 
    • Masks will be provided while supplies last.
    • Designated facial covering/mask breaks will occur throughout the day when students can be six feet apart. 

    Gov. Ivey has recently announced the requirement of wearing face masks in public that is scheduled to expire on the 31st of July. If this requirement is extended to where it is in place when school starts, how will this impact traditional learning? Will students be required to wear face covering while in class?

    • If the governor issues a state-wide mask requirement, we will have to abide by that as written. The current order requires the use of a mask for anyone 7 or older when within six feet of another person. The guidelines in our plan address the use of masks if we are not under a state mandate. 

    What will protocol be if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID?

    • We will follow the protocol set by the ADPH. 
    • Students who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days (or as directed by a physician or ADPH). When well enough, blended learning will be utilized.
    • Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 should self-isolate for 14 days from the last close contact (or as directed by a physician or ADPH). Blended learning will be utilized. NOTE: Exposure is defined as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days OR living with someone who has tested positive within the last 10 days. 

    Will there be temperature checks when students enter the school building?

    • Parents should monitor for fever and COVID-19 symptoms. 
    • Students with a fever of 100.4 or greater must not come to school and must be fever free for at least 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medications before returning to school.

    How will social distancing be maintained in the classroom?

    • Physical distancing will be practiced to the extent possible in the classroom. 
    • Teachers will be making adjustments to their classrooms to allow for students to spread out as much as possible.
    • Hallway traffic may be staggered to promote physical distancing.
    • Arrival/Dismissal procedures may be altered to allow for physical distancing.

    Will class/block changes be staggered to reduce hallway congestion? 

    • Hallway traffic may be staggered to promote physical distancing.
    • Arrival/Dismissal procedures may be altered to allow for physical distancing.

    Will students who are showing symptoms (coughing, sneezing, etc.) be separated/quarantined?

    • Students who become ill will be placed in a designated area of quarantine with a facial covering in place, and parents will be called.  
    • School system staff should visually check for symptoms (which may include temperature checks and/or confirmation with families that the students are COVID-19 symptom free). Symptoms include, but may not be limited to, fever, chills, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new cough, loss of taste or smell. Refer to CDC list of symptoms. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
      • In the event a student begins to show symptoms of COVID-19 while at school they will be sent to a quarantine area until a parent picks them up. 
        • If diagnosed with COVID-19, the student can return to school after 14 days of symptoms first appearing (or as directed by a physician).
      • It is the responsibility of the Alabama Department of Public Health to notify individuals of possible exposure to COVID-19. 
      • The parent/guardian of a student who tests positive should notify their school nurse and/or school principal upon knowledge of this positive result (student/staff identification will remain confidential). Families should follow ADPH guidelines when a student or close family member tests positive for COVID-19 https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/patients.html.

    How will school and classrooms be cleaned and sanitized?

    • We will follow CDC and ADPH guidance for sanitation.
    • Intensify regular cleaning and disinfecting procedures in all schools.
    • Sanitize high touch surfaces throughout the day.
    • Purchase and provide classroom cleaning supplies and materials.
    • Provide hand sanitizer throughout the buildings.
    • Clean and disinfect schools daily.
    • Enforce regular handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer.
    • Routinely clean classrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias, and all high traffic areas.
    • Utilize electrostatic sprayers to sanitize buildings.
    • Encourage students to bring personal hand sanitizer if desired. 
    • Post signage showing best practices for hygiene and sanitation.
    • Encourage all students to bring a refillable water bottle or bottles as some water fountains will be unavailable.

    TRADITIONAL OPTION & THE SCHOOL DAY

    Will students attend school every day under the traditional option?

    • Students will attend school five days a week for daily, in-class instruction.
    • School hours will remain the same as last year.

    Will the length of the school day be the same/normal times from last year?

    • Yes. The length of the school day will be the same and will follow the same times/schedules as last year.
    • Students will attend school five days a week for daily, in-class instruction.
    • School hours will remain the same as last year.

    Wil there still be a fall break and spring break?

    • Yes. At this time, we do not plan to change the approved calendar.

    Will students stay in the classroom all day?

    • The level of risk in our area will determine how much time is spent in the classroom. We expect room changes to be limited for a while.

    What are the class sizes going to be like?

    • We anticipate smaller class sizes due to the remote learning option. 

    Will electives be offered, and if so, what will electives look like?

    • Electives and elementary special classes will continue to be offered but may look different. For example, an elementary art teacher may travel to the child's classroom as opposed to the child traveling to the art room.
    • Physical Education classes and recess may occur with limited numbers and cleaning protocols in place.
    • There will be no field trips until further notice.  Students may participate in virtual field trips.

    Will students leave the classroom for P.E, music, art and other electives?

    • If students leave the classroom to attend electives, cleaning will occur between classes. 
    • Electives and elementary special classes will continue to be offered but may look different. For example, an elementary art teacher may travel to the child's classroom as opposed to the child traveling to the art room.
    • Physical Education classes and recess may occur with limited numbers and cleaning protocols in place.
    • There will be no field trips until further notice.  Students may participate in virtual field trips.

    Will there be recess?

    • Physical Education classes and recess may occur with limited numbers and cleaning protocols in place.

    If my child is in the band, what will that look like?

    • We will share information concerning band, choir, etc., once we receive guidance.
    • Your child can participate in Marching Band whether you choose traditional or remote.

    What will lunch look like for students?

    • Grades PK-6 will continue with breakfast in the classroom.
    • Grades 7-12 will have cafeteria grab and go breakfast to be taken to a designated area.
    • Grades PK-6 will have lunch in the classroom (or other designated area).
    • Grades 7-12 will be served lunch in the cafeteria in carryout containers to be taken to a designated area.

    Will you have after school care (latchkey) this year?

    • Yes. We are planning to offer latchkey.

    Will school buses still run?

    • Yes.

    Will e-Learning still be an option for students under the traditional option (e-Learning for travel, etc.)?

    • If you choose traditional learning, you would have the possibility of e-Learning days or blended learning, depending on the length of time needed.

    Can a student start traditional school at the beginning of the year and later choose to do remote?

    • Yes, you can change from traditional to remote learning.   

    Will teachers be expected to teach both in-class students and remote? 

    • We will have teachers assigned to traditional or remote learning. We do not expect teachers to do both.

    In the traditional classroom setting, will substitute teachers be trained to handle situations and follow protocols?

    • All employees (including substitute teachers) will be trained on health and safety protocols.

    BLENDED QUESTIONS (AS PART OF THE TRADITIONAL OPTION)

    What does "blended" mean? Can you explain the blended portion a little bit more?

    • "Blended" is part of the traditional option.
    • Blended means that students transition between traditional and remote and back again at the discretion of the school district.
    • We ask that you choose between traditional and remote. Choosing "blended" is not an option.
    • If you choose traditional, you may need to float between traditional and remote (a blend of traditional and remote learning).
      • Your child will attend class daily, but will be equipped to go to remote as circumstances dictate.
      • Blended instruction will only be used by students who are attending "traditional" (face to face) but need to leave for a certain amount of time to work online.
      • For example:  If we have to close a classroom for disinfecting, your child would transition from traditional to remote and then back to traditional when the classroom reopens.
      • Another example:  A student in traditional school whose parent tests positive for COVID-19 would need to self-isolate. That student would roll to "blended" (online/remote) instruction until cleared by ADPH guidelines to return to school.

    For the blended option, is remote learning up to the parents' discretion or is this decided by the school? Is there a limit as to how much remote learning can be done?

    • Currently, the blended option is decided by the school district if you choose traditional learning.
    • Remote learning can be utilized for the school year, but there will be checkpoints where you can choose to return to traditional school.

    REMOTE OPTION

    Will remote learning be virtual or online?

    • The remote learning curriculum will be online.
    • Athens City Schools will primarily use an accredited, online program, SchoolsPLP, for remote learning.
    • Instruction is provided within this program.

    Will the remote/online option be an option for the entire school year? When would students be allowed/required to join back in the traditional setting?

    • Remote learning is an option for the entire year.
    • Remote learning will be available for Kindergarten - Grade 12, utilizing teachers from each student’s current school.
    • Students will attend classes “remotely” five days a week.
    • For continuity purposes, Athens City Schools is asking for a commitment to remote learning for a full grading period of nine (9) weeks.  Students may return to traditional learning at 9 week breaks or continue with remote learning for the remainder of the school year.
    • Families of students wishing to return to traditional learning are asked, if possible, to make the building principal aware two weeks prior to the end of the 9 week grading period.

    How many hours a day will be required for remote learning?

    • K-5 students will be expected to work between 2-3 hours a day.
    • 6-12 students will be expected to work 3-4 hours a day on school assignments.

    Will classes begin at a specific time each day or will students be able to complete work at their own pace?

    • Students will be able to work independently, and teachers will have regular check-in times and will provide assistance as needed.

    If we choose remote learning, will the school system supply devices and internet connection?

    • iPads with keyboards/cases will be available to every student that does not have a device available at home to use with remote learning. 
    • Distribution of iPads for remote learning students will be announced at a later date and will meet all safety protocols to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission. 
    • Please let your principal know if WiFi is needed.
    • ACS has Verizon MIFI Hotspots available for checkout for a fee of $20 a month.  

    What is the attendance policy for remote students?

    • Remote students must “attend” class daily in accordance with the Athens City School District’s calendar. 
    • Students fulfill attendance requirements when they log in to their classes daily, participate in required video conferencing sessions with teachers, and complete assignments.

    If we choose the remote learning option, how would sports/band/etc. participation work? For example, if baseball/band is one of our classes, would my child only attend in-person for that period? 

    • Yes, that is the plan.

    How do we enroll/sign-up for remote learning?

    How will remote learning work day to day?

    • Athens City Schools will primarily use an accredited, online program, SchoolsPLP, for remote learning. Instruction is provided within this program.
    • The role of the parent is key to the success of remote learning.  Students in grades K-5 will require a lot of support from caring adults at home and in the remote classroom.  
    • K-5 students will be expected to work between 2-3 hours a day and 6-12 students will be expected to work 3-4 hours a day on school assignments.
    • Remote teachers will interact and engage with remote students on a regular basis though Google Meet or Zoom meetings to mentor and provide support. 
    • Social emotional learning activities will be connected to the ACS Portrait of a Graduate.
    • Efforts will be made to keep remote students on pace with traditional students.
    • Some electives available for traditional students may not be available for remote students.  Parents should contact school principals with any questions.
    • Career tech courses at the Limestone County Career Technical Center are available for remote students; however, they must be taken in-person.  
    • Student progress will be assessed through SchoolsPLP and the remote teacher. Grades will be assigned following normal school grading procedures.

    How will parents of remote students be supported?

    • Training resources for parents of remote students will be offered.

    How will students be graded under remote learning?

    • Student progress will be assessed through SchoolsPLP and the remote teacher.
    • Grades will be assigned following normal school grading procedures.

    Will gifted and talented services be available if students are enrolled in remote learning?

    • For students receiving direct Gifted services, remote learning activities will be facilitated by the Elementary Gifted Specialist, per the student’s GEP.

    Will students be tested for gifted if they choose remote?

    • Any required face-to-face testing will take place following recommended safety guidelines to the greatest extent possible.

    PRE-K

    How will the Pre-K program be impacted?

    • Traditional Pre-K will be provided with the possibility of Blended/Remote if a period of quarantine is necessary.
    • A remote Pre-K option will not be available at this time.

     SPECIAL EDUCATION

    What will remote learning look like for students who receive special education services?

    • Students working remotely will continue to receive special education and related services as determined appropriate by the child’s IEP team.
    • Students with a 504 plan will continue to receive appropriate accommodations per the student’s 504 plan.
    • For students receiving direct Gifted services, remote learning activities will be facilitated by the Elementary Gifted Specialist, per the student’s GEP.

    CAREER TECH AND EXTRACURRICULARS

    Will Career Tech still be an option for remote students?

    • Career tech courses at the Limestone County Career Technical Center are available for remote students; however, they must be taken in-person.

    What about sports? Can my child still participate in athletics if we choose remote?

    • Students who choose remote learning will be able to participate in sports or other extra-curricular activities.

    How will band be affected?

    • Your child can participate in Marching Band whether you choose traditional or remote.
    • We will share more information concerning band, choir, etc., once we receive guidance.

    SCHOOL SUPPLIES

    If parents buy school supplies and go remote, can they pick up their supplies?

    • You should be able to pick them up at the school.
    • School supplies will be delivered during the summer (likely sometime in July) to each school.
    • You will need to contact the school to make arrangements.

     

     

Still have a Question?

Alabama State Department of Education Parent Guide & Roadmap to Reopening Schools

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