MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Several individual schools are sending kids back home for virtual learning as COVID-19 cases climb within school systems across North Alabama. Public school districts within Madison County started the school year virtually and then returned to the physical classroom within a few weeks. The constant shuffling is doing no favors for teachers, students, and parents.
“There is absolutely no way in any school, anywhere, that you can keep kids 6 feet apart,” stressed Beverly Sims, a district rep for the Alabama Education Association.
Sims says almost all teachers generally don’t feel safe but understand there’s only so much they can control. Sims also adds that 2second-grade teachers are feeling extra pressure to have their students ready for key state testing that comes in the third grade.
“For teachers to be held accountable for getting those kids prepared to meet the criteria in the Literacy Act, it’s just not feasible,” said Sims.
As for the constant shuffling between virtual and in-person learning, Sims says teachers are struggling to reach the students that are not adjusting to the responsibilities of remote learning. Sims adds the burden falls on parents which cannot be there to hold their child’s hand.
“They’ve got to try to find a babysitter for the kids and then they try to help their kids at home do the remote learning. It’s truly daunting for everybody involved,” said Sims.
Earlier in the pandemic, teacher surveys indicated a general frustration with how school districts were rolling out their plans. Sims believes the districts she works with, Madison City and Madison County schools, are trying everything they can.
“Many times I’m saying to my members, you bring this issue to me, but do you have a solution to offer?” said Sims.
Each school district should be publishing their COVID-19 case numbers as well as the number of students and staff that are in quarantine. Click here for the Alabama State Department of Education COVID-19 dashboard.
Many districts across North Alabama report struggling to find substitute teachers and bus drivers. Schools generally must consider the amount of COVID-19 cases they have and if they have enough staff before they transition back to virtual learning.