Pelham City Schools releases revised 2021-2022 reopening plan

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham City Schools recently released a revised version of its “Press On” reopening plan.

It covers the school system’s plans and procedures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. PCS released an initial version of the plan a few weeks back but updated it as more information about the state of the pandemic became available.

The school year will start out at what PCS refers to as “Mitigation Efforts Level 3,” which requires universal face coverings with exceptions in certain situations.

Under the plan, the schools will also take steps to provide physical distancing where possible. These steps include modifying classroom setups, utilizing alternative indoor and outdoor spaces when possible, minimizing large groups and other procedures as they relate to cafeteria, PE classes and other similar settings.

In a letter Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield explained the school board’s reasoning for beginning the school year in this way.

“Over the last week, we have received recommendations from the Alabama Department of Public Health and other appropriate sources, including consultations with Alabama doctors and experts,” Coefield said. “We also currently know that no statewide mandates will be in place when we begin school next week. The governor has made it clear that this will be a local issue determined at the local level.”

Other features of the plan include in-person learning five days a week, and vaccinated staff and students will not need to quarantine if exposed to a person infected with COVID-19.

Additional rules for visitors include being limited to essential business only during normal school hours, prohibiting lunch visitors at the moment and considering volunteers and chaperones on a case-by-case basis.

“We will communicate with local health experts who are people invested in Alabama and focused on the best interests of children and adults. These professionals hold titles of responsibility and are accountable to the public for any positions or recommendations made,” Coefield said. “We have been in communication with directors of public health, medical directors of disease control, professor of pediatrics, directors of health policy, etc. We are fortunate to have renowned experts right here in Alabama, and locally at UAB and Children’s Hospital, and we will utilize those experts. What we will not do is follow advice from TV personalities, guest commentary, internet and social media sources unless those are vetted by our local Alabama health experts.”

The full text of the plan can be found on the Pelham City Schools website.