The Alabama State Department of Education laid out its Roadmap for Reopening Schools Friday in a 45-page document.
The document states that it is “guidance” and “is not mandated, or state required.”
In the outline, the department of education details recommendations that schools are encouraged to do now and when schools open in three categories: essential, guidance and consideration.
Despite the name, essential recommendations are not necessarily mandatory.
“The only mandatory recommendations are those that are required by state law, required by a standing board policy, or health order,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey told WAAY 31.
Among the essential recommendations Alabama schools have been given before reopening are reviews of student plans, updates to individualized education programs and contact with custodial and infection control staff to review cleaning guidelines.
When school is back in session, it’s been strongly recommended that each school have a designated quarantine area, in the case a child gets sick on campus.
Parents are also being asked to monitor their children for symptoms and take their temperature each day. If the child exhibits any symptoms, parents are asked to keep their child home and keep them there until fully recovered.
Schools are also expected to provide plans for traditional, remote and blended learning scenarios.
According to the Roadmap, traditional learning is when “Students attend classes in a traditional, on-campus setting.”
In remote learning, students attend classes “virtually” and take advantage of a number of resources, both virtual and otherwise. Teachers instruct and check in with students virtually. The state has already committed to offer remote learning to all school systems.
Blended learning is a mix of traditional and remote that allows students to transfer back and forth between remote and traditional learning based on their needs and preferences.
In the document, the department of education recommends but does not require schools offer at least traditional and remote options throughout the 2020-21 academic year.
“Every school is going to look different across the state, even within one district, one school may look very different from another,” Mackey said. “But, we have a very high expectation that high quality learning will be delivered to all of those students.”
Mackey said the department is “concerned” about the rising number of coronavirus cases across the state, monitoring the situation as it develops.
There are three situations in which schools in the state could close, according to Mackey. Gov. Kay Ivey can close schools, local school boards can close their schools and, under a public health emergency, the state health officer could close schools.
“We believe that rather than any one of those acting unilaterally, what we will be doing is continuing to communicate between local needs on the ground, the public health department, our department and the governor and together make decisions,” he said.