Muscle Shoals City Schools said the number of students coming back to in-person learning will be larger in the spring semester.
Students will start school on Jan. 7, five days a week, as usual. Superintendent Chad Holden said this can all change at the drop of a hat that's just one way the pandemic has taken a toll on education.
"We are seeing a lot more failing grades than what we were used to seeing and there is a great debate about the standardized testing, because there is a school of thought that we need to test this year to get that bench mark," said Holden.
Holden said students who went virtual struggled more.
"Our in-person students quickly caught back up and by the time they ended the fall semester, by in large, our elementary students were right where they needed to be. Our virtual students, we are not seeing the type of progress we'd like to see with them," said Holden.
Holden believes this factors into the reasons why more Muscle Shoals parents will send their students back to in-person classes.
"When we started the school year, we had about 20% of our students choose the virtual option and we're seeing only about 10% choosing the virtual option and we're excited about that. We're ready to have our students back in the classroom. The virtual option has been a challenge because not every family dynamic lends itself to doing it yourself at home," said Holden.
Holden said the older students did better with virtual learning, but he worries about the long-term effects this will have on elementary age students' education in the long run.
Holden also said right now, there is no official word on when teachers in the state or his district will get the coronavirus vaccine.