In less than a month, students could be returning to the classroom. However, districts across North Alabama are still working on how to accomplish in-person instruction safely.
Precautions against coronavirus are expensive. On Monday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced more funding for health care and remote learning in public schools. Now, $170 million will go towards two different grant programs.
Each public school district in Alabama will be receiving at least $70,000 from the Education Health and Wellness Grant Program, and $100,000 from the Educational Remote Learning Devices Grant Program.
Some districts are getting a lot more. The majority of districts in North Alabama are receiving well over that minimum amount.
Education Health and Wellness Grant Program:
- Huntsville City: $1,878,613
- Madison City: $818,092
- Madison County: $1,409,035
Educational Remote Learning Devices Grant Program:
- Huntsville City: $2,683,734
- Madison City: $1,168,703
- Madison County: $2,012,907
For a full list of districts, click here.
This comes as parents weigh the decision whether or not to send their kids back to the classroom. However, many teachers are not given the same option.
A retired teacher in Huntsville is concerned for those who are faced with choosing the job over their safety.
Gloria Gann spent several years as a teacher at Blossomwood Elementary school in Huntsville. Now retired, Gann is still reflecting on just how conflicting this situation is for educators in North Alabama.
"It's a very difficult decision because you're giving and taking both ways," Gann said.
Gann is in her 80s and is still educating, but only virtually.
"It just feels right to teach, I love to teach," Gann said.
She has been retired from the classroom for several years but has taken up online tutoring. Right now, Gann knows she is safe, but that is not the case for teachers across North Alabama.
"It's a hard thing to ask someone to be in contact with that many people and especially children, who are not at all concerned about distancing or masks or anything else," Gann said.
However, districts have access to more funding when it comes to health-related costs. Under the Education Health and Wellness Grant Program, it will cover costs of health care professionals, testing, nursing supplies, creation of isolation areas, thermometers and modification of school transportation.
"You're putting your life on the line, no doubt about it and I just think the schools before they open up for students need to be very health conscious and keep their students safe," Gann said.
Gann believes this funding by the Alabama State Department of Education is a step in the right direction and is hopeful districts will take full advantage of it.
"It's hard to make your decision until you know exactly what that classroom will look like," Gann said.
Madison County Schools, Madison City Schools and Huntsville City Schools declined to comment on the additional funding Monday night.
Huntsville City Schools did release a statement regarding teacher safety:
"The wellbeing of both students and staff members remains paramount in Huntsville City Schools. The district has implemented numerous measures to promote a safe and healthy environment conducive for teaching and learning during the upcoming school year. Learn more visiting huntsvillecityschools.org/reset."