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UPDATED: Dothan City Schools will start Aug. 17 with traditional, virtual options
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UPDATED: Dothan City Schools will start Aug. 17 with traditional, virtual options

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The Dothan City Schools’ “Roadmap to Reopening” will include an Aug. 17 start date and a dual-instruction approach, officials announced Tuesday.

“Dothan City Schools created this plan to help navigate the re-establishment of our schools, where employees, students and families feel safe and reduce the impact of COVID-19 conditions upon returning to the district,” school officials said in a news release. “The guidelines referenced in this plan are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, Alabama governor’s office, and the Alabama State Department of Education.”

Using guidance from the state school superintendent, Dr. Eric Mackey, the school system formulated a plan to continue instruction for students in the upcoming year that includes using its “Plan B” calendar start date — moving the first official day for students forward a week. Teachers will start Aug. 11.

Safety measures

In a video message to parents and stakeholders, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said every employee will have his or her temperature checked daily, but said checking every student’s temperature before entering school would be impossible. She asked parents to monitor their children’s temperatures and symptoms before sending them to school.

While schools are working on individual plans for how students would move from class to class and around the building, Edwards said they are also looking at ways to prevent too many students congregating in one place.

In elementary schools, breakfast will be served in the classrooms; at Dothan Preparatory Academy and Dothan High, breakfast will be a grab-and-go option only.

For lunch, roughly half the student body will be able to eat in the cafeteria to adhere to social distancing recommendations while the other half will be served in the classroom.

At Dothan High, a plan is being developed to create an outdoor seating area for meals. Edwards said she is hoping the area will be ready in time for students’ return to school. Principal Bill Singleton has been charged with making a rotating schedule to allow groups of students to eat in the designated area at one time.

Contingency plans

While menus will remain basically the same. Edwards said some wet foods like grits or soups will be eliminated from the menu to reduce spills.

“Dothan City Schools has been careful to create a plan to reopen schools with an eye toward flexibility,” officials said. “Our intent is the reopening of school in a traditional fashion. Naturally, any plan is contingent on the track that the coronavirus takes and also on complying with any executive or statewide orders.”

Dothan City Schools will offer parents a dual-instruction approach — traditional and remote/virtual. Parents can send their children to school in the traditional model or can choose to keep their children at home and participate in remote/virtual instruction.

The system recently ordered another 900 Chromebooks outfitted with cellular data capabilities so that students using them have reliable internet access.

Assignments and tests given virtually will be graded, unlike those assigned in the latter part of the 2019-20 school year.

Dothan High and Dothan Preparatory students will have access to newly licensed software, Edgenuity, which offers full courses in accordance with curriculum standards.

If parents choose the remote/virtual approach, students will be enrolled from the beginning of school to the end of the first nine weeks. At that time, they can continue virtual instruction or re-enter the traditional school environment.

Online information

Dothan City Schools has established a website to allow parents to view their reopening plan and select students’ learning options. The deadline to pick a plan in July 31. The website can be found at dothan.k12.al.us/ reopening.

Ahead of the school system releasing its full document of protocols and plans in place, all employees and students will be provided several masks from the ASDE and the city school system, Edwards said. She did not specify whether students or employees would be required to wear the masks all day.

Visitors will be limited, but all who enter the building will be temperature-checked and screened for symptoms and must wear a mask while in the building.

An in-house isolation room will be designated for students who are suspected of having COVID-19 until someone can pick them up from the school.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of our families and stakeholders as our leadership and educators work together to provide an instructional connection between our schools and our students,” the statement reads.

“We hope our families continue to stay safe and healthy at this time. In the coming days, please be on the lookout for communication from your schools, and if you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your schools.”

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