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ACS releases 2020-2021 learning models

As a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 and with guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Center for Disease Control, the Alabama Department of Education and local governing agencies, Andalusia City Schools submitted its Plan to Reopen Schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

Andalusia City Schools will offer students K-12 a choice of the traditional in school experience or a virtual learning model in which students may attend school at home. Parents who choose the virtual model will be enrolled only by coming to the ACS Central Office and signing a letter of intent no later than 3:30 p.m., Thu., July 30. In both scenarios standards for all coursework will be presented in accordance with Alabama State Department of Education course guidelines and requirements. In both cases, a numerical grade will be earned to determine successful completion of coursework and all state assessments will be taken.

“It is the belief of the ACS staff and faculty that in school classroom presentation of education standards presents an optimal learning experience for students,” Superintendent Ted Watson said in a letter to parents. “We also understand the reservations some parents and students might have regarding the return to school given current health concerns. This document is designed to outline what each model will look like so that parents and students might make an informed decision about school for the coming year.”

ACS Traditional Model

“The Traditional School Model requires on campus daily school attendance as we all remember prior to COVID-19,” Watson said. “We will, however, be implementing safety precautions as outlined by the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health. While there is no way to completely eliminate the threat of exposure to COVID-19, we will do everything in our power to alleviate the risk of contamination.”

The following bullets are designed to outline what these precautions look like for students attending a traditional school day:

• It Starts at Home – Parents need to be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and keep students home that exhibits signs of infection. These symptoms include fever of 100 degrees or higher, body aches, sinus congestion with a cough or runny nose, trouble breathing or pain/pressure in the chest, stomach ache, loss of taste or smell, and diarrhea or vomiting.

• School Precautions – The risk associated with COVID-19 are most prevalent when people are in contact with a confirmed positive case. Close contact has been defined as being within approximately six feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case for the duration of 15 minutes or more and/or having direct contact with infectious secretions emitted by a confirmed COVID-19 case. The spread of COVID-19 associated with close contact most effectively mitigated by following three practical guidelines, 1) maintaining physical distancing, 2) the use of facial coverings and 3) regular hand washing/sanitizing. Teachers and staff will use good judgment to protect themselves and students when assisting in classroom activities. Furniture, class routines, or class schedules may be rearranged to minimize the risk associated with close contact and promote social distancing.

We will practice social distancing to the greatest extent possible.

• Facemask – The use of face covering or facemask has now been mandated by the governor until July 31. We will take our orders regarding masks from the ADPH and/or Governor Ivey.

• Hand washing/Sanitizing – ACS have worked diligently over the summer to procure hand sanitizer, soap, and other cleaning agents proven to kill the corona virus. These dispensers will be located in hallways, bathrooms, and other high traffic areas. Its frequent use will be stressed and highly recommended. The sanitizing of desk, doors, lockers, and other highly touched surfaces will be completed during the day by students and staff with deep cleaning taking place every night by a professional cleaning service.

• Cafeteria – Cafeteria seating will be limited to a number in keeping with social distancing guidelines. School will make use of classrooms, outdoors, gyms, and other areas that will allow students to spread out safely. All breakfasts and lunches will be prepared by cafeteria staff and served in grab and go boxes. Hot meals will continue to be served in this manner.

• Positive COVID-19 Test – A student or staff member with a positive COVID-19 test will be required to quarantine for the ADPH recommended 14 days and will follow the guidance or their healthcare provider and the ADPH. The person may return to school once they are symptom free and have met all ADPH requirements for quarantine. Students will receive instruction from their classroom teacher using a Learning Management System (i.e. Google Classroom, See Saw, Schoology,) and/or live stream or recorded classroom lessons. The rigor and pace will continue through quarantine or school closure and will be supported by classroom teachers. Please note that procedures for entire classes, grades, hallways, or school quarantining from school if a positive COVID-19 case should arise with a teacher or student has changed from week to week. Know that whatever decision is made will be done in accordance to guidelines and advice from the ADPH and ALSDE.

ACS Virtual Learning Model

The virtual learning model is offered for parents and or students who are uncomfortable sending their students back to traditional school setting given the threat of COVID-19. Students will follow the ACS scholastic calendar and be assigned a schedule that officially mirrors the traditional model schedule.

Parents who choose the virtual model will be enrolled only by coming to the ACS Central Office and signing a letter of intent no later than 3:30 p.m., Thu., July 30. Course content may be limited for on campus courses but dual enrollment and ACCESS classes are available for students at home. LBW and ACCESS would moderate those classes and assign grades. The curriculum taught by our teachers is in line with Alabama state curriculum guides and may take the form of the state provided curriculum, provided in a virtual format (Schools PLP, ACCESS,) live stream Andalusia classroom instruction, or prerecorded Andalusia classroom instruction. Any course taught by an Andalusia City Schools employee comes with daily communication between teacher and student to provide follow up to the lessons.

The following list is designed to outline virtual school guidelines and serve as a document regarding virtual school.

“Please note that this is our first attempt at producing this product brought on by pandemic,” Watson said. “We ask as we sort through the various aspects of this venture.”

1. Students opting for virtual school are committing to having their instruction delivered to them via the Internet. The curriculum is ALSDE approved and/or provided. As previously mentioned, the online presentation will take one of the following forms:

a. The use of coursework provided through prepackaged virtual coursework (Schools, PLP, ACCESS)

b. Live streaming of the actual classroom during the direct instruction portion of the class

c. Prerecorded instructions of the actual classroom activities with a live stream Google meet follow-up daily to check for questions and comprehension.

2. Students opting for online school are committing to one semester of virtual instruction.

3. Students wishing to return to traditional instruction following the semester requirement will need to notify the school administration in writing of their intent prior to returning to school.

4. Students will need a device (computer with a keyboard and camera) capable of receiving internet access for each student as lessons may be provided live for each grade level.

5. Students will need Internet access at home.

6. Students will observe a normally scheduled school day with the teacher live streaming classes through their device. If classes are prerecorded the teacher will establish the live daily follow up time for students to join the live classroom setting for questions, etc.

7. Student attendance will be taken daily. Students logging onto the teacher’s live stream will document attendance. Students attending virtual classes are subject to attendance requirements and grades may be affected by failure to attend Google meets or actual classroom live stream times.

8. Students are responsible for completing and returning all assignments given by the classroom teacher inside of established deadlines.

9. Students may be required to report to campus to take tests (i.e. state assessments, major tests or final exams) in person. Online testing must be completed during the confines of the class time in which the test is given.

10. Participation in extra curricular activities is allowed but shall be subject to legislative and AHSAA guidelines. Participation in these activities is also  subject to coach/sponsor approval and/or requirements. Sixth grade band is NOT an extra curricular activity and is not available to virtual students.

11. ACS prohibits sharing, recording, or photographing live or prerecorded virtual education services to ensure the privacy of all students and staff. Activities intended to harm (physically or emotionally) or incite harm on another person, may result in suspension from the virtual education program, suspension from school or placement in alternative school.

12. School lunches will be available for pick up at a CNP designated site each day. The lunch costs are associated with your payment status while attending traditional school (free lunch, reduced lunch, full price)

“The plan for reopening ACS is designed to get our students back in a learning environment whether in person or virtual,” Watson said. “We are dealing with factors that we have never had to deal with before on the National, State and local level. As a result, change to this plan is probably inevitable. Staying in close contact with local media outlets, as well as our website and Facebook page, will keep you up to speed on the latest occurrences. If change occurs we will inform you. If you have any questions, call us at 334-222-3186.”