MADISON, Ala. – From virtual learning to implementing contact tracing, the pandemic changed the 2020-2021 school year in profound ways. And now that the school year is coming to an end educators are reflecting on their biggest challenges and hanging on to the most important lessons.
“It’s had its challenges all year long and very exhausting to our teachers,” said Ed Nichols, Madison City Schools Superintendent.
COVID-19 created a landscape of ever-changing information. Educators scrambled to keep up.
“Trying to manage that information, to be transparent to our parents, to provide all of the safety measures that were needed, and at the same time enhanced technology usage across the district by teachers,” Nichols said.
On top of that, teachers had to find ways to reach students through a computer screen. Students faced challenges in their own environments. Nichols did not mince words when describing this year.
“I would say it probably has been the most challenging year. It’s been challenging on everybody. It’s been challenging on our teachers, the demand in the classroom, and things that they’ve had to do. Challenging on our kids, parents, support staff,” Nichols stated.
Through the struggles, he says there were lessons learned.
“Never take for granted a smiling face. Never take for granted a moment of when you can see an expression on a child. Never take for granted school activities,” the superintendent said.
And he says never take teachers for granted. Nichols says educators rose to the occasion this year. Wednesday a celebration was held after Rainbow Elementary was selected as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
But there are still district wide concerns about learning loss. As the district moves forward from this school year, Nichols wants to set students up for success next school year.
“This summer we are going to have a significant amount of summer programming for students that we feel from the assessments that we have, currently may have had that loss. And then starting in the fall when we come back to school opportunities for kids as well,” Nichols explained.
Masks will be optional for summer school students. Nichols says if case rates stay down, masks could also be optional for next school year.