With the start date for Russellville City Schools delayed by one week to Aug. 19, schools throughout the district are implementing new measures in preparation for the fall.
Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes says around 90% of students and almost all of the district’s teachers are expected to return to traditional learning.
Grimes says the district is currently hiring four permanent substitute teachers for each of its schools so it can be prepared for any teacher shortages.
“We understand that our absentee rate for teachers will probably be up. Some of those will be unexpected due to teachers waking up with symptoms etc., so we just want to reduce the burden and make sure that we have enough substitutes in line and on campus,” Grimes said.
In addition to substitute teachers, Grimes says they are also currently hiring two custodians and two temporary licensed practical nurses (LPN).
The district’s reopening guidelines encourage parents to screen children each morning and check temperatures at home, but Grimes says they are also working to get technology that will allow for automated temperature checks upon arrival at school.
“We are in the process of purchasing eight thermal scanners, so that all of our students will enter through thermal scanners each morning so that we’ll be able to gauge their temperature,” Grimes said.
Grimes says that the traditional learning option is good for providing a sense of normalcy to all students, but also better suits the learning needs of some.
Russellville City Schools has the highest population of English Learner (EL) students in Alabama at around 26%, with Hispanic students comprising 53% of the district overall, according to Grimes.
“Most of our EL students are extremely concerned about their education and learning to speak English and to read and so they understand how difficult that would be to get that online, I believe, so most of those students have registered with us traditionally,” Grimes said.
No matter which option EL students or any students choose, Grimes says the district is prepared to make transitions to the traditional and virtual learning options as smooth as possible.