by KATE EVANS
Morgan County’s public school students will remain in remote instruction through the rest of the calendar year, school officials told families this week. Students are in their fourth consecutive week of remote learning due to COVID-19 case numbers locally, and won’t return to classrooms for the remaining days of the 2020 fall term. Officials would normally wait until the state Department of Education released its Saturday map to determine if classrooms would reopen for the following week. The Morgan County School Board and School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle made the decision about remaining in remote learning during the Tuesday, December 15 school board meeting. A phone call was made to parents that evening about the plan and the information was also posted on the county schools Facebook page.
Christmas break for students will run from December 24 through January 3. Students could return to school on Monday, January 4, 2021. The Saturday, January 2 Department of Education School Alert System map will determine whether Morgan County Schools can have in-person instruction the week of January 4-8 or whether they must operate through remote learning instead.
Tuttle said that the extra days of remote learning could help staff, students and families, given the spike in local COVID cases and a midweek snowstorm.
Tuesday, December 22 was scheduled as a faculty senate day and non-traditional learning day with remote learning. Wednesday, December 23, the last day before Christmas break, was also set as a non-traditional learning day.
School board member Laura Smith felt that schools should shut down until after the Christmas break with everything that was going on, but Tuttle said that they still needed to have six days of instruction according to the state. Those instructional days can be met by remote learning/non-traditional learning days. Lessons could be kept light during the snow days. Tuttle told families in her message that she had urged teachers to lighten the workload for students in the lead-up to the holidays.
“We certainly miss our students and want nothing more than to have you back in our buildings. Stay safe and enjoy some time in the snow the next few days,” school officials said.