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Russellville City Schools prepare for traditional start to school

Students will start school Aug. 19.

Posted: Jul 23, 2020 6:29 PM

Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes told WAAY 31 90% of parents surveyed by the district said they want a traditional start to school.

Grimes said his phone started ringing off the hook on Wednesday after districts in Madison County announced a virtual start for the first nine weeks of school.

"I want the message out that we plan to provide the traditional option. We want our parents to know they don't have to worry about that the traditional option is going to be here," said Grimes. "It says many of those 90% have no other choice. They know it's not going to be good at home. Their parents have to work. They don't have the devices or technology, so I feel like being in school, our parents are saying to us it's extremely important."

Grimes said he respects the decision of every school district, but he's listening to the need of parents in his district. Just this week, the state announced Russellville City Schools would get around $400,000 in additional funding for more tech devices.

"We would like to order 1,200 Chrome Books and we know that's going to be very hard pressed to get those before the beginning of school, because those are on back order, but we're looking at other options," said Grimes.

Grimes said with tech devices on back order and equipping buses and campus parking lots with WiFi will take time, time the district doesn't have with a new start date of Aug. 19.

"If we have to deploy later in the school year than we would be better situated at that point, but we think starting traditionally and even a blended model is better than virtual in most cases," said Grimes.

To prepare for a traditional start, the district has cut down on the number of kids on a school bus by doubling its routes. The buses will run one route at 7:15 a.m. and drop those students off, then disinfect the buses and pick up the second group of students and drop them off by 8:15 a.m.

The school system has ordered disinfecting fog machines, cleaning chemicals and hand sanitizer stands for classrooms.

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