HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville City Schools welcomed more than 20,000 students back to campus Wednesday for the first day of school. Huntsville City Schools says despite challenges in an unending global pandemic, they worked to make the first day back to class the best for students.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome not only students back but teachers and families as well,” says Craig Williams.
The Huntsville City School board put a mandatory mask policy in place just a week before school started, which brought criticism.
But Huntsville City Schools spokesperson Craig Williams says the first day of masking went well.
“I certainly don’t want to say there hasn’t been any issues, there are 23 thousand students. But I’m not aware of any. The schools I visited, the principals I spoke with said masking hasn’t been an issue and the students have been incredibly cooperative and good about wearing masks,” says Williams.
Beyond the discourse about the masking requirement, the district also faces another challenge as they start the school year, staffing shortages.
“While I don’t have exact staffing numbers in front of me, I can say we are still hiring like many school districts in Alabama are so we certainly want to do everything we can to get as many interested and qualified applicants here as quickly as possible,” says Williams.
Wednesday, the district also had issues with its student information systems, PowerSchool.
“Some processes that are typically automated are having to be done more manually and primarily who this is impacting in terms of grade levels or what students this affects, it’s primarily impacting students who are new to the district or are new to their school,” says Williams.
Williams says despite it all, the first day went very well for most people across the district.
“Overall it’s been a fantastic day here in Huntsville City Schools,” says Williams.
Huntsville City Schools has not released any information on when they may lift the mask policy, but say they will continue to monitor COVID-19 data and follow guidance from health care professionals.