Baldwin County school officials announcing Thursday, July 9, 2020 what the reopening of schools on August 12th will look like. Parents will have the options of keeping their children in traditional school or putting them in virtual school. As to facemasks and social distancing requirements for students, they’ll have to wait at least another week to find out.
The 2020 school year is shaping up to be very different. Superintendent, Eddie Tyler said it’s been an exhausting summer for staff, preparing for a new school year in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. Parents will have to weigh keeping their children from school completely or leaving them in, where Tyler said there’s a risk they’ll come into contact with COVID-19.
“I will never guarantee you that our schools will ever be one hundred percent sanitized, COVID-free zones,” Tyler said. “Children are children. They’re going to hug. They’re going to get close to each other. They’re going to do crazy things. They’re going to drink out of each other’s drink. Those things are going to happen.”
To minimize the risk, the school system has spent more than $1 million dollars on upgrading security measures on every campus. Most notably, every school will have new, thermal cameras at each entryway. The cameras will indicate if a child has a higher than normal temperature. A nurse would then be able to further evaluate the student.
Virtual School has seen a big increase in enrollees. More than 1,000 students have already signed up and the school system has expanded the service to include several testing facilities around the county.
“We have the old Bay Minette Elementary and we still have some of the Intermediate School that we still have there. We have our modular building that we’re moving from Orange Beach because we’re getting ready to open that high school – middle school and we’re going to move some of that around in the Foley area. We’re going to move some to the Daphne area, next to the current virtual school,” Tyler explained.
Virtual school is available this year to students K - 12, but parents should know it is very different from the distance learning students experienced after schools shut down this spring. Superintendent Tyler said it takes great commitment from the student and their parents.
“This is real-world school. It’s just virtually so parents need to understand, if we make that decision and my child and me or my husband have to be dedicated to this because you will be graded,” Tyler said. “Your absences will be graded. You’re expected to make sure you’re staying in touch with teachers.”
Tyler sent parents a letter briefing them on where things stand. The deadline to enroll students in Virtual School is August 10th and whether parents decide to go traditional or virtual, they’ll have until August 31st to make a change.