Recently Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey asked district school leaders to consider pushing back school start dates from the beginning of August to the end of August, but Enterprise City Schools hopes to start on time.
Mackey said that he requested this change so that schools can better prepare for adjustments that the state will be requiring schools to make to protect students and staff from COVID-19.
Mackey said that the Department of Education is working with a group for a road map to the 2020-2021 school year, scheduled to release on June 19. This road map would include school curriculum, community engagement, special education, sports, extracurricular activities, mental health and sanitation. While Mackey asked school districts to consider that change, it will be up to the school boards.
“It just gives (schools) a little more time and if you think, we’re going to start back to school on Aug. 1 and the road map comes out on June 19, you literally have about five weeks to get all your plans in place,” Mackey said in an interview with WHNT. “If you’re looking at starting later in August you might give yourself eight or nine weeks to start. That’s why we’ve asked them to consider it, but it’s a local board decision.”
Enterprise Superintendent Greg Faught said that currently ECS has no plans to change its 2020 start date, which is set for Aug. 6.
“Unless something changes or we get more information or a mandate (from the state) we would like to keep things the way they are and the way we’ve been planning,” Faught emphasized.
Daleville Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stamps, however, said that Daleville City Schools is looking at possibly pushing back the start of the 2020-2021 school year to later in August, but a decision had not yet been made.
Mackey said that the Department of Education is asking for guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health on what to do in the case of a positive case at a school.
“We want to know what would be our first step, second step, third step in hoping that we could mitigate the spread, but also that we could contact tracing in an orderly fashion, that we could maintain HIPPA requirements and any privacy concerns,” Mackey said.
Mackey also acknowledged that there could be some limitations on activities in the next school year, which could mean the cancellation of out-of-state field trips or sporting events. That could also mean teams from out of state can’t come into Alabama. Enterprise is currently scheduled to travel to Navarre, Fla. for a football game on Oct. 30, while Somerset Academy in Florida is scheduled to come to Enterprise for a game on Aug. 21.
“I think any of the travel out-of-state or of other teams coming into the state may be limited,” Mackey said. “That’s not saying that it would not exist at all, but certainly we have to think about the size of some of our tournaments.
“We have some tournaments that teams travel to that may draw 50 or 55 teams from multiple states and when you’re doing contact tracing, which is something we’re really working hard to get ahead of, so if there’s a positive case we can do contact tracing.”
Another change that could be coming would including visitor policies at schools, which could include requiring visitors to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before entering the building.