Dr. Williams responds to state superintendent’s reopening plan

Published 3:12 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Alabama State School Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said Friday, June 26 that all Alabama schools will reopen for traditional classes for the fall semester, after being shut down during the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While schools will be open for traditional instruction, virtual options will also be available for students and parents who are uncomfortable returning to the classroom.

“This is going to be the most difficult school year we have ever faced,” said Mackey.

Selma City Schools (SCS) Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams agreed with the state superintendent, opining that the pandemic will undoubtedly encounter challenges as some students return to campus while others stay home and participate in virtual learning.

“Our teachers, leaders, staff and families will navigate uncharted waters,” said Williams. “Our top priority is safety and Team Selma is committed to supporting our employees and families so that we can move forward with confidence.”

For those students continuing virtual learning in the fall, Williams expressed worry about students who have limited internet access at home.

“I do worry about our scholars who do not have the supports at home to help them as we reopen schools,” she said. “I have said often that virtual learning is not for every family and I urge those who are considering it to be sure that there is a consistent support system in place. Face-to-face, traditional school will remain an option when it is safe to do so.”

Williams said that SCS is providing ample opportunities to help prepare as the juggle instructing students in the classroom an online.

“I love our teachers and we are committed to ensuring that they have the supports necessary to be successful,” she said. “This includes a variety of professional learning opportunities for teaching virtually, social emotional learning, trauma-informed practices and even safety and cleaning protocols. We are also planning to implement an Employee Assistance Program designed to give our team members options for when they need additional supports. We value our teachers and staff and I am so proud of their work thus far.”

As school begins in the fall, Williams said she expects the vast majority of students to participate in at least some form of virtual learning.

Williams expectations derive from surveys that SCS has conducted gauging the reaction of parents, students and teachers about returning this fall.

“Surprisingly, only about 24% of families who responded see traditional, face-to-face teaching and learning as the best option,” she said. “Or perhaps I should not be surprised considering the nature of this pandemic. As cases continue to rise in our state and in Dallas and other Black Belt counties, families want to be sure that their children are provided an educational experience that is safe and healthy above all else.”