County BOE announces change to traditional school model

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Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood announced some major changes for students who will be traditionally attending school for the upcoming school year.

Hagood announced at a meeting of the Walker County Board of Education on Tuesday that he would like to have flexibility in adjusting the school calendar, to which the board approved.

Early Thursday morning, Hagood shared a video to Facebook where he announced the first five days of the school year from Aug. 20-26 will be virtual-only days of instruction.

Schools will be setting up assigned group orientations for each student to pick up a Chromebook, learn about the virtual learning management system, Schoology, and receive information on other school operating procedures.

In addition, for the first nine weeks of school, students opting for traditional instruction will now be divided into two groups — one group that will attend school on Monday and Tuesday and another group that will come to school each Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday will remain a deep cleaning day for each school.

Students will only go to school campuses two days each week and then participate in virtual learning the remaining three days of the school week.

"This decision, I feel, is necessary in order for us to maintain proper social distancing and to mitigate the risk of COVID contamination," Hagood said. "This adjustment provides our children and our faculty and staff with additional time to work out any problems that may exist."

At the end of the first nine weeks, school board leaders will re-evaluate to determine if traditional school students will keep receiving in-person education only two days a week.

The first traditional school day for students (which will be the Thursday and Friday student group) will be Aug. 27.  

The school system's original, traditional school model would have had all students returning to school on Aug. 20 and attending school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Thursday's announcement does not impact virtual-only students, who will still begin school on Aug. 20 and do virtual learning Monday through Friday.

"There is no playbook when it comes to an unprecedented event," Hagood said. "I would be reckless and foolish not to analyze all the information I have at my disposal in keeping 7,000 students and almost 1,000 employees in the Walker County school system safe."

Hagood's announcement can be found on the Walker County Schools Facebook page.

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