Shelby County Schools delay start to 2nd semester

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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COLUMBIANA — Shelby County Schools will implement a January Term at the start of the second semester that will delay the return of students and staff to school campuses after the holiday break. All students and staff will return one week later than originally slated on the district’s calendar.

Employees, who were previously expected to return for the second semester on Jan. 4, 2021 will now return on Jan. 11. Students who would have returned on Jan. 5, 2021 will now report to school on Jan. 12.

Superintendent of Education Dr. Lewis Brooks said the decision was made with the health and safety of students and staff in mind.

“The extended time out of buildings will allow for a longer quarantine period for anyone who might contract the coronavirus around the Christmas holiday,” Brooks said. “We are concerned that positive cases will manifest before returning to school. By allowing additional time, we hope to reduce the chance of further spread.”

Due to the required instructional days and hours, students will be expected to complete academic assignments for January Term remotely via Google Classroom or Schoology. There will be no in-person instruction during that week; however, teachers will respond to email for assistance at scheduled times.

In a letter to parents, Brooks said the week of Jan. 5 will be used to review concepts previously learned or preview new content. An assignment in every subject will be posted for students through Shelby County Schools’ remote learning platform. Students will be expected to complete the assignments for academic credit, even though there will be no in-person instruction during the January Term. However, teachers will respond to emails for assistance at scheduled times.
“It is our sincere hope that you and your family will enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season,” Brooks wrote. “We are so thankful we get to share in your child’s life and education.”

Meanwhile, Calera Elementary School is giving parents the option to keep their children at home on certain days in December, with the understanding that once a student is out, they would not return until January.

In a letter to parents, CES Principal Genét Holcomb said, “We are seeing an increase in the number of students and faculty members that have tested positive or have been placed in quarantine as a close contact. The shortage of substitute teachers is creating a potential splitting of classes, moving students to other classrooms. As a result, if you would like to keep your child at home during these final days, Dec. 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 and/or 17, these days will be excused. You can begin this when you feel it is best for your student. However, once the absences begin, the student should not return to school until January.”

Holcomb said assignments would be posted in each student’s Google Classroom for the said dates. She also asks parents to email her if their student(s) will remain home prior to Dec. 18.

“Extra cleaning and disinfecting of our school campus will take place over the break,” she added. “It is my hope that we will see a decline in the number of absences when we return in January.”