Coffee County Schools Superintendent Kevin Killingsworth released the school system’s plan to reopen schools this fall.
Killingsworth noted that this school year would be very different and called the plan a “living plan” as it will change and evolve as the school system receives more guidance and data.
“Many of the routines of our daily lives have dramatically changed,” Killingsworth said. “Every aspect of the school’s daily routines will continue to change; some of these changes will be drastic chances beyond our control.”
Killingsworth said that his staff is working hard to make sure 2020-2021 is a productive school year and asks for as much patience from families as possible.
“I can assure everyone that the Coffee County School System’s leadership team is working diligently to make plans for a productive and effective school year,” Killingsworth emphasized. “It will not be an easy undertaking, to say the least. To the very best of my ability, with assistance from the stakeholders of Coffee County Schools, I will continue to work tirelessly to make the daily routines be the best they can under the circumstances.
“I humbly request patience and understanding from all stakeholders during these ever-changing times. I ask that we face the challenges that lie ahead together, so we can offer the safest and best educational environment to all of our students and staff.”
The school year will begin Aug. 10 for the students of New Brockton, Kinston and Zion Chapel and according to the school system’s plan, school start times will be modified “to provide the safest environment for students and staff.” That start time will be released closer to the beginning of school.
Coffee County Schools will be offering both traditional learning and virtual learning for students during this school year.
For Pre-K through eighth grade, the “Coffee County Anywhere Digital Classroom” will be made available for those students whose parents wish to keep them at home this school year. Any students that choose this “school-based digital learning” option can only transition to traditional in-person learning after the end of the nine-week period.
Grades 9-12 will also have the “virtual online learning” option that Coffee County Schools has offered in previous years.
According to the plan, the “traditional learning” model will transition to virtual learning from home if a COVID-19 spread becomes substantial in the school or in the community. Those closures will only occur under advisement from the Alabama Department of Health (ADPH), however.
Coffee County faculty and staff have been trained in “an array of health and safety practices by healthcare professionals with guidance from the Alabama State Department of Education and the (ADPH).”
Teachers and staff will be supplied with sanitizing and cleaning supplies to use during the school day and there will be sanitizing and disinfecting of common areas and classrooms that take place daily at all schools.
Each elementary and high school administration will also develop their own sanitizing and disinfecting guidelines, as well.
All staff at each school will also be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and training in COVID-19 protocols.
According to Coffee County Schools’ plan, parents are encouraged to take students’ temperatures and check for symptoms before sending their child to school each day. Students who have a temperature of 100.4 or higher and/or is exhibiting symptoms should stay home. All parents will be required to update contact information and each student needs at least three emergency contacts for someone that can check out a student from school if need be.
Isolation areas at each school have been designed to allow sick children to remain under the supervision of school nurses but also isolated from other students until picked up from school.
If a student or faculty member is diagnosed with COVID-19, contact tracing will be performed by the Coffee County Health Department.
Visitors will not be permitted to enter the school and curbside check-in and check-out will be utilized to minimize exposure. Visiting parents are asked to park and call the front office on arrival. The student will then be escorted by a staff member to and from the building or vehicle.
No class parties or field trips will be scheduled for the school year, as of right now, and only “essential personnel” are going to be allowed on the sidelines of practices and events in athletics and other extra-curricular activities.
Coffee County Schools will offer transportation for students that require it but are asking that all parents that can transport their children to and from school to do so to reduce the number of students riding each bus.
All bus drivers will be issued PPE including face coverings, face shields and gloves. Students are also strongly encouraged to wear masks while being transported on buses and those masks will be provided when requested.
All buses will also be equipped with hand sanitizer dispensers and each bus will be disinfected before and after each route. There will be one seat designated for isolation of any students showing symptoms associated with COVID-19.
At the beginning of the school year, only Pre-K and kindergarten students will eat lunch in the cafeteria and social distancing guidelines will be adhered to when the cafeteria is in use. All other students will eat lunch in their classrooms and meals will be delivered in covered containers. All students will also eat breakfast in their classrooms or other designated areas.
Families are also encouraged to prepay for meals using the “My Payment Plus” system online to reduce the handling of money. A plan will be developed to provide students with meals at home if the school is forced to transition from traditional learning to remote learning at some point.
Students with special health considerations are encouraged to communicate with their local school’s support committee to support their learning assignments. Also, students with IEP, 504 and I-ELP’s who wish to enroll in digital learning or virtual school will need to request and participate in appropriate committee meetings to consider the appropriateness of the program for student access.