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Schools moving to online/at-home for rest of school year

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County Schools instruction will be shifting to online or another form of home instruction in light of the continuing spread of COVID-19 following an announcement by Gov. Kay Ivey and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey.

“We had hoped that by taking these cautious steps (closing school until April 6) we would be able to get students back into the classroom, however, the virus continues to spread,” Ivey said. “Today, I have signed a supplemental state of emergency that will allow Dr. Mackey and his team to provide instruction from home starting April 6 and the remainder of the school year. This decision has not been made lightly. It has been made with a tremendous amount of concern and discussion.”

Mackey said he appreciated parents’ and students’ patience in these unprecedented times.

“We have never had to shut down so many schools for such a long time,” Mackey said.

Just how each school district will provide this at-home instruction will be determined by the local superintendents in conjunction with the state department. Mackey said he would be in discussion with school system superintendents on March 27 to develop plans. Ivey said accommodating special education student’s IEP plans will also be a part of these at-home learning plans.

Schools systems have been given until June 5 to complete the school year. Extra-curricular activities have been canceled. Graduations are expected to be scheduled when the threat of the coronavirus has diminished.

Mackey said at-home instruction could simply be teachers giving take home packets to students, especially in areas where broadband is not widely available. He said that the Alabama Library Service has extended its homework help hours (https://aplsws1.apls.state.al.us/aplsnew/homework), and APT will be broadcasting some courses.

The Governor urged everyone to take the COVID -19 threat seriously and follow social distancing guidelines. “Stay at home if possible … This is not you stay at home and then invite all of your friends to come over and visit, stay at home means to limit interaction as much as you can with other people,” Ivey said.

In a phone interview, CCS Superintendent Jason Griffin said a plan will be finalized by April 1. He said the school system would “consider all options.” This will likely include online instruction and instructional materials available for pick up or delivery. Griffin said teachers will be accessible to students throughout the remainder of the school year.

The school systems food pick up sites will continue to operate.

Details of how Chilton County Schools will handle the rest of the school year will be released when available.