County schools speak out about plans to reopen

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett released a statement this week following the joint conference between State Health Officer Scott Harris and State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the release of the Alabama State Department of Education “Roadmap to Reopening Schools.”

During the June 26 meeting, officials announced local school systems would have broad authority to take action based on each school district's individual situation.

“It remains up to the local school systems to provide the working components and the day-to-day operation of reopening local schools,” said Barnett.

Barnett said he had spent several days working through and developing the county's plan and guidance for educators, parents and administrators.

In a statement on Wednesday to The Times-Journal Barnett said he hopes to finalize some of the plans this week regarding the reopening of DeKalb County Schools. He said information would be available in the coming days.

“This guidance will come in the form of two public documents, Educators’ Guidance and Parent’s and Family Guidance. Both of which I believe will prove to be beneficial,” he said.

Barnett said they are preparing, planning and developing the logistics and guidance to the best of their ability thoughtfully and deliberately.

He said the Educators’ Guidance document may be available as early as July 3 but no later than July 8.

“I also want to note that the guidance will not be exhaustive or finalized. As we progress through the next few weeks and months, there will be many adjustments, revisions, and flexibility required of all of us,” said Barnett.

He said many adjustments would be made to ensure the sanitation, safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.

“Your local school faculty and staff have been and will continue to work very hard to provide the best opportunities for your children, our students, to learn in a safe and effective manner,” Barnett said.

DeKalb County parents or guardians interested in applying to enroll their child in the DeKalb Virtual Academy for the 2020-21 school year who missed the early registration period will have the opportunity to register starting July 13, 2020, when registration resumes.

Students in grades K-12 are eligible to apply. For more information visit www.dekalbvirtualacademy.weebly.com.

– Editor’s note: An in-depth story is being developed by staff writer Cinthia Rico and will appear in an upcoming edition of The Times-Journal.

The upcoming school year will see many challenges. However, Barnett said there would also be an opportunity to reach students in ways we have never done before and that is his hope.

“Since March 16, 2020, our last day of school, I feel that the value of the local school and what it means to our community has been realized, perhaps even more so than it was before COVID-19,” Barnett said.

He said they would be ready to serve the communities this fall with excitement and a determined focus on positivity and progress rather than on the obstacles they face.

According to the Alabama State Department of Education officials, they intend that all schools reopen this fall under the following five guiding principles:

• We will be transparent. We will share what we know and what we do not know and be clear about what we can control and what is outside of our control.

• We will be equitable. We will center decisions on what is best for all students, families and educators.

• We will listen. We will bring together diverse stakeholders and experts to understand realities on the ground and to surface creative solutions.

• We will put safety first. We will leverage science, data and public health leadership to inform the choices we make.

• We will be decisive. Given the size and scope of the challenge, we must move deliberately and make tough choices. We may need to adapt and if so, we will adapt quickly.

For additional information or to access ALSDE’s Parent’s Guide visit www.alsde.edu. For information on DeKalb County Schools visit www.dekalbk12.org.

– Editor’s note: Due to the upcoming holiday, updates may be available before the publication of this article and will be featured in a future edition of The Times-Journal and at times-journal.com.

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