The Tuscaloosa City Schools Board approved a plan for a staggered return to in-person learning at their weekly meeting Tuesday. The plan sees elementary and middle school students returning to classes on Monday, with high school students returning the next week on the 28th. TCS plans for all students who opt to do so to return to full-time in-person learning on October 12th.

This weekend, parents will be notified that their student was sorted into one of two groups:

  • Green Group - Attend face-to-face instruction in school on Mondays and Tuesdays
  • Gray Group - Attend face-to-face instruction in school on Wednesdays and Thursdays

The division is governed primarily by households, meaning that families with multiple TCS students will be in the same group.

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On the days students will not be in school, they will be provided with virtual asynchronous instruction, typically taking the form of assignments and digital learning tools. Students who opted for full-time virtual learning will complete these kinds of assignments Monday through Friday.

Full-year virtual students are still required to return to campus for state-required standardized tests, and they still have access to in-person activities and services, such as athletics, extracurricular clubs and small-group instruction and remediation.

Students who are bussed to school will be required to sit in assigned seats (grouped by family, if necessary), and to wear a face mask. Busses will be loaded back-to-front and unloaded front-to-back. The first two seats behind the driver will be left vacant.

If a driver observes that a student is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, they will be required to prevent them from boarding, or if observed while on the bus, to isolate the student, contact the school or take them to the nurse depending on the time of the route.

Roof hatches and windows will be open (weather permitting) to keep fresh air circulating. Busses will be cleaned and disinfected after each route.

Before students return to in-person instruction, TCS is asking them to go through a symptom checklist each morning, making sure they don't have any symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, such as fever, new cough, fatigue, new loss of taste or smell, and shortness of breath, among others.

(Tuscaloosa City Schools)
(Tuscaloosa City Schools)

Several safety precautions are also being taken for in-person instruction:

  • Social distancing rules will require students to be seated in assigned desks, as far away from each other as possible.
  • Masks will be required to be worn at all times. If a student is having a hard time hearing or understanding the teacher, they should make that known.
  • Students will not be allowed to gather before or after school.
  • Breakfast and lunch will be provided in classrooms.
  • Regular temperature checks will be taken for students.
  • Recreational activities such as PE and recess will be limited to non-contact activities.
  • Music, art, and library lessons will be delivered virtually to elementary students.
  • Gifted education services will be delivered virtually to students.
  • On top of hand-sanitizing stations being added throughout the building, more break time will be allotted for hand washing. Students may be asked to wash their hands upon arrival and before going home.

Upon return to full-time in-person instruction, all of these same measures will be upheld. TCS will follow the Alabama Department of Public Health Toolkit's guidelines as it relates to student and employee travel -- meaning that self-quarantining students will transition back to virtual learning during that two-week period.

Students can request to change their learning style from virtual to in-person at any time, at which point the school staff will review the request, followed by final approval by the Deputy Superintendent. There are no guarantees requests will be granted.

Those interested can read the whole guidebook here.

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