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Birmingham City Schools to go Virtual for First 9 Weeks

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By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

The first nine weeks of the Birmingham City Schools (BCS) 2020-2021 year will be done remotely, Dr. Mark Sullivan, BCS Interim Superintendent announced on Wednesday.

School is set to begin on August 24.

The decision is based on the large number of COVID cases in the area and to keep students and staff safe, he said.

“We will reevaluate the conditions at the end of the nine-week grading period to determine if we should move forward with additional remote learning plans,” said Sullivan during a virtual press conference. “We have constantly watched COVID-19 cases across our city and state rise. This decision was not made lightly but at this juncture, I believe it is our best option to ensure… a safe, nurturing environment for all of our students.”

Under the plan, students will attend class online, which will be taught by BCS teachers with both at home.

Students will be given electronic devices for classwork and families who do not have access to internet will have the district provide hot spots.

“We stand ready to start school on Day One,” Sullivan said. “In this digital environment . . . we know that remote learning has its challenges, but we are in this together. One thing I know about this school system is that we are a family and as a family, we are going to work through this issue.”

Teachers began training on digital platforms last spring such as Zoom and Schoology and that will continue throughout the beginning of the school year, Sullivan said.

The district will also plan to continue providing meal services for students.

“All of our schools will have cafeteria services, do drive-bys as we did when we started this practice in March,” he said.

BCS will begin virtual forums this week to share ideas with students, parents, educators and staff.

“We will have individuals from the curriculum department as well as our instructional superintendent to lead our parents around what digital learning looks like, what are the expectations for the students and for the parents in this digital environment,” Sullivan said. “In addition to that, when students get their devices, we will have individuals there to help parents log onto the device, go to our LMS (Learning Management System), learn how to identify the textbooks online and also we will have . . . short tutorials for our parents.”

Sullivan has not said the impact on sports; however, some teams have been already begun practicing over the summer.

The virtual forum will be held Thursday, July 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. To submit questions visit www.bhamcityschools.org.