Dothan City Schools is planning to reopen in the fall, and is also preparing that COVID-19’s impact may force a delay to its original approved start date by one and a half weeks.
The city school board approved a “Plan B” calendar that delays the start date for students from Aug. 6 to Aug. 18 at its meeting Monday night. The new calendar will only be used if the central office finds there is a “reasonable need,” Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said.
“As we move through the summer, we’re watching to see what’s happening and, of course, that will give us time to get things in that we need to get in. For instance, we’re trying to make sure we have stationary hand sanitizers, thermometers that we can take every adult’s temperature as they go through the door. Those things we need to get together at every school site, and of course, for the buses,” she said.
Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey recommended that schools consider moving back their start date to the third week of August if they had an earlier start date originally planned. The state board of education will issue guidance about schools reopening in June.
The backup calendar includes five less days of instruction for 175 total student days, but the same amount of days for teachers. It shortens fall, Christmas and spring breaks by one day each and adds two days to the end of the calendar, pushing the official last day from May 27 to June 1.
Teachers would start the same day, and Edwards said the time could be used to bring in small groups of young students for testing, using a recently-adopted test.
“It won’t be a glaring amount of time, maybe a two-hour window,” she said. “It would give us the info we need to plan instruction as we move forward.”
Priority testing would be conducted with students in grades K-3.
April is usually the month schools use to complete standardized testing, but Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey shuttered schools in March so schools were unable to test students.
Edwards indicated that central office administration is working on a plan for instruction, organization, and meal delivery for schools as they continue to deal with the coronavirus upon their reopening.
In other action, the school board approved the migration to another alternative learning platform — from OdysseyWare to Edgenuity — for a one-year term for $58,100.
Students use the software to complete credit recovery courses and continue classes while at PASS Academy online, an alternative learning environment.