Pelham City Schools releases in-depth reopening plan

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

PELHAM – Pelham City Schools released its plan to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year on July 16. The plan includes a variety of measures and guidelines to ensure the safety of students including alternative learning options and face mask rules.

This new plan is based on the “Roadmap to Reopening Schools” from the Alabama State Department of Education released on June 26. PCS’s plan titled “Press On” expands on this framework with solutions specifically decided by PCS officials.

The first day of the school year has been moved from Aug. 6 to Aug 19., and students will return to the school at 50 percent capacity in phases before having all students back at once.

Students with a last name starting with A-L will return on Aug. 19, and students M-Z will return Aug. 20. If your household has more than one student with a different last name, they can all attend on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Then, on Friday, Aug. 21, and thereafter, students will attend in full capacity if they choose the in-person learning option.

Face coverings will be required for students and faculty while on school buses, in school buildings and classrooms, and while moving throughout the hallways.

“Wearing face coverings is a routine that we must get accustomed to in our efforts to reduce the spread of the virus to others,” the plan says. “We ask that families supply face coverings for students who choose the traditional learning options.”

Exceptions for coverings include certain class activities, certain outside activities, and special circumstances for those who have a medical condition that would prevent wearing one. These situations will be determined and evaluated on a case by case basis to best ensure student safety.

The schools will also be providing three types of learning options so that parents can best make decisions about how their children will receive their education. These include traditional, remote and blended.

Traditional learning will be typical in class with the additional safety and wellness protocols in place. Remote learning will include a “flexible, fully online environment,” so that children can safely receive education from home. The final option, blended learning, will allow students studying remotely to come for classes on campus that require them to be in-person.

Students who wish to sign up for remote learning must submit an application with the school by July 20.

The school’s will encourage and promote social distancing as much as possible. The school will not screen students or faculty for temperature but is asking them to do so before coming into the facilities. Those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should not come to class.

As for food service, cafeterias will be limited to 50-percent occupancy, meals will be wrapped or served in closed containers with no self-serve options, and sanitation will take place frequently both at tables and in food lines.

In elementary schools, breakfast will be available in the classroom. Lunch will be served based on grade level. Third through fifth grades will enter the cafeteria, pick up food from serving area, and return to classrooms to eat. Pre-K through second grades will enter cafeteria, pick up food from serving area, and eat in cafeteria.

In middle and high school, only students who are buying breakfast will be allowed in the cafeteria. Students not eating breakfast will go to another assigned area in the school. For lunch, sessions will be staggered and/or alternative locations will be opened to limit cafeteria occupancy to 50 percent.

For those choosing remote learning, curbside pickup will be available at Pelham Park Middle School two times weekly. Pick up will be available Monday and Thursday between designated times (to be determined). Meals picked up Monday will consist of three days of food. Meals picked up Thursday will consist on two days of food

The schools have contingency plans in place in-case further measures needed to be taken. This includes limiting attendance to 50 percent at all times and if needed transitioning all students to remote learning until it is feasible to return to classes.

If a 50 percent occupancy becomes necessary, certain students would go to school Monday and Tuesday with another group going Thursday and Friday.

To access the remote or blended learning application or to get more information about the school system’s reopening plan visit Pelhamcityschools.org.