Lawrence County Board of Education unveils return to school plan


The Lawrence County Board of Education unveiled their much awaited return to school plan this past Monday.

The plan will serve as a guide for the Lawrence County School System during the 2020-21 school year.

The board has been working on the plan since the Alabama State Board of Education unveiled their road map to returning to school but made the crucial point that local school systems would be responsible for coming up with their own plans, as only they would know what would be needed for their individual school system.

School is set to begin on August 12 in Lawrence County with employees reporting on August 5.

The plan begins with a statement from Superintendent Dr. Jon Bret Smith.

“With the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year approaching, it is the desire of Lawrence County schools to provide guidance and information for the upcoming year. Lawrence County schools is committed to providing a safe learning environment, high-quality instruction, and emotional supports for all students,” he said. “We are looking forward to this school year, and we are working diligently to create a plan that meets the needs of each student and every staff member.”

Smith also outlines the challenges the school system will no doubt face in the upcoming year in his statement, but says they are prepared to meet those challenges.

“We realize we cannot anticipate every challenge our school system will face in the coming year, but we are working closely with health system employees, state officials, school leaders, industry specialists, community members, and other stakeholders to be prepared,” he said. “With our combined effort, we will have an awesome school year. Our ‘Return to School Plan’ has been created as a plan that ensures safety is our number one priority. We thank you for your continued support, and together we will make this a successful school year!”

Learning will be offered in three different types of options this school year. Those include traditional, virtual and blended.

Traditional will be regular on campus learning while virtual will be complete online learning from home. Blended will be a combination of the two.

The board’s plan has a link that offers more in-depth details for each type of learning including the differences for certain grades.

In the unfortunate event that another lockdown should need to be implemented, the school system has made contingency plans. Each student will be given a device during the first week of school, which will be used if all virtual learning is required.

Traditional learning will be as normal as possible with the exception of some new small changes.

Those include:

Designated entrances and exits with traffic flowing in one direction

Breakfast and lunch occasionally served in the classroom

Smaller physical education classes

Social distancing in the classroom

Teachers moving from room to room to deliver instruction (departmentalized situations)

Dismissing in small groups/phases

Assigned desks for students

One-way hallways

Adequate space between lockers

All field trips for the 2020-21 school year have been put on pause, but this does not affect athletic or extracurricular events.

Highlights of the rest of the plan are as follows:

Guests will not be allowed on school campuses unless they are checking out or in a student.

School bus drivers and students will follow any health and mask guidelines and will be sanitized at the completion of each route.

Parents must be available to pick up a child in the case that an illness occurs at school.

Parents of students who are at high risk are encouraged to seek out guidance on the best option of learning for their child.

Face masks are encouraged for students but will only be required in accordance with any mask ordinance made by Governor Kay Ivey. All students will be provided with a cloth mask by the school.

Water fountains will be turned off. Students can bring a personal water bottle from home. There will be no sharing of water bottles.

There will be scheduled restroom breaks monitored by teachers. Students will use the restroom closest to their classroom.

Meals for traditional students will be served in areas designated by the principal.

Virtual students will have access to Google forms for preordering and opting out of meals.

Parents will be able to pick-up meals for qualifying children in our school system. The student’s lunch number will be required.

Blended students meals will be delivered to the appropriate location.

For any other questions you may have, the school system’s full plan can be found on the Board of Education’s website. They have also shared the link to the Lawrence County Board of Education Facebook page.

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