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Huntsville City Schools still working on plan to return to classroom

The school board was the only one in the district who would talk to us about what goes into making reopening decisions.

Posted: Jun 26, 2020 7:49 PM

WAAY 31 worked to learn from Huntsville city schools about the school district's plans for the fall after the Alabama State Department of Education's announcement on Friday.

Friday, was the last day of Huntsville City Schools graduation for the year. While the day is all about the graduates, a lot of parents want to know what to expect next school year. It’s a question I tried asking Superintendent Christie Finley the past two days.

"Our superintendent is getting ready for graduation that's our focus right this second," said spokesperson Craig Williams when we asked for an interview with Finley on Friday.

We asked if she had time in the hours between graduations.

"I mean look, she has a packed day, Sydney, that's the bottom line. She has a packed day. Right now, she's here for graduation and that's her sole focus. That's what we need to be focused on right now. If you'll excuse me, I have to go get ready myself," he said before walking away from us.

Elisa Ferrell, Huntsville School Board President, was the only person with the district willing to talk about plans for next school year.

"We have parents on both ends of the spectrum parents that have to work and want us to reopen and parents that are concerned about the possible viral infection," she said.

She wants parents to know the district is keeping all options on the table and admits a lot depends on the number of coronavirus cases the area is seeing at the start of school.

"It's an ever-changing thing. Every day those numbers are different so we're looking at that. We're talking to local health authorities for the best plan for the kids to keep them safe," Ferrell added.

She said with the district serving thousands of students, reopening isn't an easy task.

"We are 24,000 students, 1,500 staff members. We're much different than a school system that might only have 3 schools in it. We need to make a plan that works for our students and our community," she explained.

Williams sent this statement after refusing us an interview with Superintendent:

"The Alabama State Department of Education shared its Return to School Roadmap at a press conference earlier today. Following today’s announcement from State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, our team will continue to finalize our Reset Plan surrounding a return to school in August. We have put much thought, research, and consideration into our plan over the past several months based on stakeholder feedback and guidance from health officials, state leaders, and existing educational plans related to returning to classrooms.

"The health and safety of students, families, and staff members will remain paramount in our Reset Plan. It will be shared when it is finalized by the district. We thank Dr. Mackey and his team at the Alabama State Department of Education for their continued leadership, guidance, and support.

We feel it is important to know we will provide options to families within our learning frameworks so they can make the best decision that fits the needs of their family. Additionally, we will be mindful of meeting the needs of teachers and staff members to engage in teaching and learning while promoting a safe and healthy environment."

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