Published 11:13 pm Monday, August 10, 2020

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With schools soon to be opening their doors, Opp City Schools has announced it will be using an alternating schedule to accommodate the Alabama Department of Public Health’s guidelines.

“When the new guidelines were released by the Department of Public Health, we looked at our schools, classrooms and numbers and there was no way that we could adequately social distance at full capacity,” OCS superintendent Michael Smithart said. “The numbers just don’t work. We feel like by reducing the number of students on campus, we can socially distance and still provide face-to-face instruction. We feel like this will give us the opportunity to stay in school longer.”

The schedule will be in place for the first nine weeks and then will be reevaluated at that time.

Before the pandemic, OCS was not 1:1 with electronics, but now, OCS will provide free Chromebooks to each student for both on campus and remote learning.

“This is going to ensure that every student that we have has a device capable of running the programs that we need to run and doing the things that we need to do,” Smithart said. “We bought Wi-Fi hotspots for our school buses so we can park them in places where students may not have Internet. There is also the governor’s plan to provide vouchers for anyone who is already getting free or reduced lunch. There is a good plan in place and we feel like we can meet all of the needs. We just need to get started.”

Smithart said the feedback from parents has been mixed.

“Obviously, childcare is an issue,” Smithart said. “That is probably and justifiably, the biggest issue. We look at is as if we can’t socially distance then we run the risk of sending a child home for 14 days and then parents having to provide childcare at that point. We think if we can plan it out and give people a little notice, we can work through those types of things.”

Looking forward, Smithart said this year gives the opportunity to revolutionize education.

“I think we have a chance to bring technology into education more so than we have ever been able to do,” Smithart said. “With the schedule that we are going to have early on, it is not ideal, but it will provide us a better opportunity to provide services.”

The entire schedule for OCS is below:

First full day of school is August 18

Students last name A-J will attend campus Tuesday and Thursday with remote learning on Wednesday and Friday. Will begin Tue., Aug. 18.

Students last name K-Z will attend campus Wednesday and Friday with remote learning on Tuesday and Thursday. Will begin Wed., Aug. 19.

All students will have remote learning opportunities on Monday.