The buildings in the Birmingham City Schools system will house students again for the first time since spring — but only for four days each week.
The official announcement came Tuesday from Superintendent Mark Sullivan. He’d hinted in previous messages to stakeholders that it would not be long before the system returned to in-school learning after beginning the 2020-21 school year with virtual learning only.
In a prepared statement, Sullivan said, “Our overall goal has always been and still remains the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. That commitment has not changed. For several weeks now, our test positive rate in Jefferson County has been moderate, according to the Jefferson County Department of Health.”
The return of students begins Monday, Nov. 9, starting with children in pre-K through eighth grades, plus students with what Sullivan described as “low-incidence special needs.” High school students come back the following Monday.
Students will be divided into two groups, with one group attending school on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be reserved for cleaning facilities, and teachers will provide virtual learning.
A BCS spokesperson said that about 40% of all families indicated in a survey that they still prefer virtual learning full time, and those families still will be afforded that option.
Teachers and faculty will return to the schools in person Oct. 26 to prepare for the return of students.
Students will be required to wear face masks and teachers will wear face shields.
The move by Birmingham school officials follows most other districts in the metro area, which recently have moved students back into face-to-face classroom settings at least two days a week. Some have fully returned to in-school classes every weekday. All schools must still offer virtual learning as an option.