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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – COVID-19 drastically altered how schools operate, now Alabama school systems are planning for the upcoming year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance aimed at ensuring students and teachers have a safe and healthy school year.

The CDC guidance for how schools nationwide should plan for the school year ahead has plenty of details. But the gist is to take things as slowly as possible.

Some of the larger school systems in North Alabama like Huntsville City and Madison City Schools are planning to push their start dates back about 2 weeks to mid-August.

However, the federal health agency said schools will still need to work to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The CDC has illustrated three risk level classifications for returning to learning:

  • Lowest risk: teachers and students only engage virtually
  • More risk: small in-person classes while practicing social distancing
    • students stay with one teacher throughout the whole school day
    • students do not share supplies
  • Highest risk: in-person, full sized classes where there’s no social distancing
    • students can share supplies and materials

In the event state and local leaders choose to resume traditional on-site schooling, the CDC has laid out health education standards for parents, teachers and students, as well as environmental strategies to slow the spread.

Things like staggering arrival and departure times for student drop off and spacing students out on school buses if possible.

The CDC also recommends that all communal spaces like cafeterias, gyms and playgrounds remain off limits.

The Alabama State Superintendent said a group is working on a statewide guidance plan for the 2020 – 2021 school year. He plans to share an update on June 19.