Local schools implement procedures for continued education during pandemic

The end of the 2019-20 school year has not been what anyone expected it to be, but Franklin County Schools and Russellville City Schools are doing the best they can to adjust to the changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

FCS and RCS have both begun using a combination of online school and traditional pen-and-paper packets, depending on each student’s ability to access the internet.

“We have to make sure each of our kids get an equal opportunity at education regardless of their ability to access the internet, so we are trying our best to do that,” said FCS Superintendent Greg Hamilton.

Each Franklin County School is implementing its own format for the best way to maintain contact with students and allow each child to continue learning.

Phil Campbell High School, for example, will be posting core educational videos for students on its Facebook page, as well as utilizing Google Classroom. Phil Campbell Elementary School is distributing paper packets to students.

Tharptown Elementary School is switching to digital learning, with teachers focusing on core academic areas of math and language arts. Teachers will use a variety of online resources, so each virtual classroom will look different.

Tharptown High School will also be using technology to continue education, with each teacher posting videos on Facebook or through a virtual classroom.

Students at East Franklin Junior High received packets of educational material, and teachers are also posting educational material on Facebook and Google classrooms.

Belgreen High School will be involving students through digital learning using Facebook groups, digital classrooms, the Remind app and email.

Vina High School will be using the Remind app, Facebook groups and Google classrooms to continue educating students, and Red Bay High School is also embracing online activities with Facebook groups and Google classrooms.

All assignments will be enrichment activities to help enforce state standards but will not be counted toward final grades.

Final grades are based on the first three semesters of school. Seniors who were on track to graduate will be considered graduates. Anyone who was not on track to graduate will have teachers contact them regarding additional material needed to meet graduation requirements.

RCS Superintendent Heath Grimes said RCS will host a graduation ceremony whenever it is permitted, but there are no plans yet for when this will occur. There is still no decision on whether FCS schools will host graduation ceremonies.

Students at RCS with internet access will continue their studies using Google classrooms, and students without internet access will have paper packets available for them.

“The goal moving forward is to make sure all of our students have mastered the critical standards for their grade level as outlined by the Alabama State Department of Education and will be prepared to move on to the next grade level once the new school year resumes,” Grimes said in a letter to parents. “We aren’t worried about grades as much as we are worried about their mastery of skills and their preparedness.”

The school will have a day, likely sometime in July, when students and parents will be able to retrieve belongings from lockers, but right now Grimes said the focus is on educational instruction.

Grimes said parents are not expected to be teachers for their children – only to encourage them in this process.

“We are still committed to providing your child with the best education possible, as you will soon see by the communication and continued education support you will soon be receiving,” he said.

All FCS and RCS elementary students will be given work for approximately one hour each day, and high school students will receive instruction about two hours each day.

“Please know that we miss seeing your children and will provide help to them in any way possible,” Grimes added.