Wiregrass superintendents discuss dealing with COVID-19 Part 2
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -
COVID-19 has caused challenges for schools around the country over the last year. Face to face learning was removed and virtual learning became the new reality, a change that affected both the student and teacher.
“The flexibility and understanding of our staff, they realized from the beginning that the administration didn’t have all the answers and we we’re not changing our minds just to give them a hard time that there were times we had to change them almost midstream and they adapted and adjusted remarkably well,” Rick McInturf, Ozark City Schools, superintendent said.
But it wasn’t just the ones in the classroom who dealt with the hardships of COVID-19.
“CNP staff, child nutrition staff, when school shut down were still feeding children so schools may have bee closed but our kitchens were still open. We fed thousands of children every week during the times that schools were closed and it was through dedicated child nutrition workers that in a lot of cases and it was the same way with our bus drivers. The average age of our bus driver in Dothan is 68 so you take someone who is in a high risk category going face to face into a situation where they could be exposed to a deadly virus for someone in their category and they still get on the bus everyday and drive children to school,” Dr. Dennis Coe, Dothan City Schools, superintendent said.
Especially those who came face to face with the virus everyday.
“School nurses, think about what they were dealt this year. A lot of times they had to be the ones out trying to find the students that may have been exposed and checking that so they were faced with it head on. I mean we had to set up areas to put students that were isolated or showing symptoms right there with those nurses so it was no different than the healthcare workers at the hospital,” Brandy White, Houston County Schools, superintendent said.
Whether they knew it or not.
“Every employee, that why I said each employee has really gone above and beyond cleaning between each class and in a high school that’s every hour and a half that day. They are wiping down their desks and making sure that everything is sanitized and our janitors they have just gone above and beyond. They’ll get there early and some days they have long hours but they have a willingness and they’re on board,” Lori Beasley, Henry County Schools, superintendent said.
There we’re some positives that came out of the pandemic.
“The importance of communication to the community, they were looking to us everyday for what was next, what was going to change, what was going to stay the same and it just became critically important that we have a variety of lines of communication to our community. To keep them informed on what was coming down the pipe this week, next week, three weeks down the road and that’s something we’ll keep all of those lines of communication that worked so well as we we’re trying to hold this together,” McInturf said.
As this school year comes to a close, superintendents stay hopeful for the chance that students will improve.
“I think were going to get to see this spring when we take the ACAP, I think were going to be able to look at some of those standards and see where we are compared to years before and I don’t guess that’s necessarily a bad thing for us to go ahead and do that state testing because I think it gives us that benchmark of where we are and what we need to do to get back to where we were,” White said.
Get back to where we once were.
“So I would hope at some point we could be excused from quarantining students at all based on the data that we now have and as we get staff vaccinated certainly I’m hopeful that next year outside of possibly a mask mandate, I’m hopeful that next year we can have a relatively normal year,” Coe said.
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