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Superintendents give update on back-to-school situation

By: Donnamy Steele

As August approaches, local superintendents focus on making the upcoming school year as normal as possible for students. As of now, each school system plans to reopen their doors on August 17.

Covington County Superintendent Shannon Driver explained that he, along with everyone else, is awaiting more guidance from the state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey.

“Dr. Mackey will be speaking to us on Wednesday to give guidelines for the upcoming school year. We will have more information to go by later this week, along with documents,” Driver said. “Everything is still a go as of now. We will have more information to share soon, but we are hoping for a normal school year with modifications.”

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart said that Opp City Schools plan to reopen on August 17 as well, with teachers returning August 3.

“Right now we have our teachers scheduled to come back on August 3 and our students on August 17,” Smithart said. “Our expectations are to have a regular school year, although things will be a little different. We will try to keep it as normal as possible.”

Some modifications that Smithart is considering is the style of learning that will be provided in the upcoming school year.

“We will offer traditional or virtual learning for the students, and hopefully a blended system later on,” Smithart said.

Smithart explained that the school system received funds from the CARES Act which will aid the schools in this new normal.

“We received money from the CARES Act which will be allocated to issues relating to COVID,” Smithart said. “Additional teachers for deficits, devices for students to use, and personal protection and sanitization.”

Andalusia City School’s Superintendent Ted Watson also plans to use the CARES Act funds to make virtual learning accessible to all Andalusia City School students. At the board of education meeting last Thursday, the board agreed to explore ways to train students and teachers on how to navigate through virtual learning. They also discussed ways to give internet access to students who may not have wifi accessible to them at their homes.

ACS will also return to school on August 17.

More information will be shared by the superintendents once they learn more this week.