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Staffing issues force RB, Tharptown to go remote

Four Franklin County Schools are doing remote learning because of staffing issues caused by COVID-19.

Tharptown Elementary and Tharptown High School are doing remote learning Nov. 10-18, and Red Bay Elementary and High School are remote from Nov. 11-18.

“We had a plan in case something like this happened,” said Franklin County Schools Superintendent Greg Hamilton. “We were really fortunate to go 14 weeks without having something like this, but this was just something we had to face.”

Hamilton said at both schools there was a shortage of Child Nutrition Program workers and teachers. There have not been many positive cases; the majority of these staff members were required to quarantine based on Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines.

“We have had a few instances of having a shortage of subs where we came close to having to do this, but whenever you have to quarantine the 15 or so CNP workers, that really gives us no choice, since that closes that entire area,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said schools are working with students who do not have access to internet by giving them work packets.

Red Bay High School Principal Paul Humphres said the majority of classes have moved to using Google Classroom. He said several teachers were already making students familiar with the technology, in case they had to move to the platform.

“We are really proud of our teachers and how they have pulled everything together,” said Humphres. “I am blessed with a great group of faculty.”

Humphres said despite the change coming abruptly, Red Bay has done well.

“We knew that something like this happening was always a possibility, so I think that all of the teachers were really well prepared,” Humphries said. “So far we haven’t had any problems with it.”

Hamilton said remote learning is not the method he would prefer the students to learn through, but it was the decision that had to be made.

“We have had a long run with face-to-face learning, as good as anybody in the state,” Hamilton said. “I understand the frustration some people have with it. Sometimes you have to make the unpopular decision.”

Because the schools were not closed because of an outbreak, both schools’ athletic teams were still able to continue athletic activities.

THS began its basketball season Thursday night, and RBHS played in the second round of the football state playoffs Friday night.