“We look forward to seeing our students face-to-face, teaching them, investing in their lives, listening to them and watching as they grow and learn.”
That’s the message from Daleville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stamps as she announced the “Roadmap to Reopening Schools” for the 2020-2021 school year.
School begins for students Aug. 21 but educators have been working nonstop to reopen the schools which were shut down before Spring Break of the last school year.
As the first cases of the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus in Alabama were confirmed, Gov. Kay Ivey declared a State of Emergency March 13 and announced the closure of all schools K-12 in the state starting at the end of Wednesday, March 18. Schools could re-open on April 6, she first said, but schools remained closed as the coronavirus did not dissipate.
How to finish the school year in classrooms without walls became the challenge for educators for the last 30 days of the school year.
In an April 8 letter and video to parents of guardians of DCS students, Stamps outlined the school system’s contingency plan which included instruction on Critical Standards through online and paper packet activities.
Teachers posted videos on Facebook, the school website and YouTube. They monitored other web-based programs that students with internet capability had the option to participate in.
Teachers compiled instruction packs in each subject with activities to include review, practice, enrichment and a required activity in each packet for each subject.
A large drop box was placed at the front entrance of each school for student work to be dropped off at any time before the deadline.
On June 26 State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey held a press conference to release the “Roadmap to Reopening Schools” in the fall.
He emphasized that the “roadmap” was not a mandate for school systems but guidance. He said that while school campuses would open in the fall, remote learning and blended learning will also be available.
Blended learning will primarily feature students that are taking classes on campus that are forced to leave campus because of contracting COVID-19 or a student that has been in close contact with someone that tested positive, Mackey said.
Mackey also said that it would be up to each school board and district on when to open schools and what non-essential measures to take.
The “Daleville Roadmap to Reopening Schools” is posted on the Daleville City Schools website in both English and Spanish. A survey is also online for parents to fill out to inform the school if they will return their children to school or if they prefer the remote learning option. The In school/Remote Learning Survey should be returned to the school by July 16 so that preparations for class rolls and staff for each option can be finalized.
“With guidance from the Alabama Department of Education’s Roadmap and the Alabama Department of Public Health orders, we have developed a plan aligned with state and federal guidelines,” Stamps said. “Our plan provides as many specifics as we can at this point about many topics regarding the day-to-day running of the school.”
The guideline outlines subjects such as temperature checks, notification of infections, masks and face coverings, hand sanitizer, cleaning and disinfecting, water fountains and extracurricular activities.
“Our foremost goal is to ensure our students and staff return to a safe and rigorous learning environment,” Stamps said. “We have reduced our number of student days from 180 to 175 so we could push our start date later into August. We will work hard and teach with rigor daily.
“We know there are things beyond our control and we must accept it and move forward,” said Stamps. “We all will need to give ourselves and others a big dose of grace when we don’t have the answers but we will not give up. We will keep trying for our precious students’ sake.”
Stamps asked parents for patience as the new plan is implemented. “We thank you all in advance for all the ways you will assist in these great efforts,” she said. “We are committed to following the laws and orders, making every effort to be equitable for all students, doing what is in the best interest of our families and staff, listening to your concerns, making sound decisions and making adjustment when necessary.”
Transparency is the key to success, Stamps said. “We will share what we know and what we don’t know and be clear about what we can control and what is outside of our control,” she said.
“We will be equitable. We will center decisions on what is best for all students, families and educators,” she added. “We will listen. We will bring together diverse stakeholders and experts to understand realities on the ground and to provide creative solutions.”
Safety remains a top priority, Stamps stressed. “We will put safety first. We will leverage science, data and public health leadership to inform the decisions we make.
“Given the size and scope of the challenge, we must move deliberately and make tough choices. We may make mistakes but will adapt quickly as variables change,” she said.
“We are cutting through a path that has not been cleared by others. It will be hard. It will be burdensome. But our Daleville City Schools’ students are worth all the effort,” Stamps said. “We are in this together. We are the Mighty Warhawks and we will rise.”