Cullman City School Board hears from principals on school closure curriculums

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The Cullman City School Board is seen at its March meeting Tuesday morning. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman City School Board held its monthly meeting Tuesday morning, hearing from faculty of all schools, including Cullman High School Principal Kim Hall, Cullman Middle School Principal Jake Johnson, East Elementary Principal David Wiggins, West Elementary Principal Dr. Jay Page and Cullman City Primary School Principal Tricia Culpepper. The topic, of course, was the system’s response to the temporary closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’ve just been working to provide instruction to our students digitally,” said Hall. “We’re so blessed to be able to have the resources to do that. Most of our teachers were already using Google Classroom anyway; lots of other programs are available. It’s really the professional development that we’ve done in the technology department has made it possible and really just a seamless transition for us.”

Page and Wiggins reported they will have their students continue to read and work on assignments that were sent home with students before the closure.

Page shared, “Obviously our instruction is a little different from high school. We had some assignments they were able to take home.”

Wiggins noted he also encouraging his students to write in an active daily memoir to record what they’re doing at home and is encouraging physical education for his students.

Johnson and Hall took a moment to address students who do not have access to Wi-Fi at their homes.

Hall shared, “We did a survey last week with all of our students through Google Forms, and in Bearcat Enrichment our teachers made sure they completed that survey. We had a few students who didn’t (reported that they don’t have Wi-Fi). Over the weekend the assistant principals and I divided that list up to make contact with parents to find out who did not have internet. We received many responses. Parents were appreciative of that, that we were making that contact that Saturday. Mr. (Michael) Fowlkes worked with LeanStream to provide T-Mobile hotspots for those students. We were making calls, we had office staff, and Mr. Fowlkes made phone calls to middle school and high school students to pick those up.”

LeanStream, out of Huntsville, is an organization which helps school systems around the state with online learning platforms, providing the mobile hotspots for students without internet. The hotspots will be available for Cullman City Schools grades 7-12 students since those students have take-home devices.

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson said about the leftover hotspots, “If we don’t use them all on middle school and high school students, we’ll filter them to the other grades. We actually have a couple of staff members that use their own phone as their hotspot which has limited data, so we are also providing some of those for our faculty.

Johnson shared, “We’re also using online options for our curriculum over the break. Fortunately for my students, we covered most all of our content standards because of testing that was scheduled beginning the week after spring break, so we already started remediation for state testing. Those are the focal points of what we’re going to do online over the break.”

School Board member Jason Neal asked the principals if they would be able to continue online if the closure goes past April 6. All said yes.

Hall also shared the Child Nutrition Program’s free “grab-n-go curbside meals” plan.

Meals are eligible to pick up for:

  • Any child, age 18 or younger may pick up free breakfasts or lunches at West Elementary School.
  • Monday, March 23, 2020 from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. pick up 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches per child.
  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020 from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. pick 4 breakfasts and 4 lunches per child.
  • Meals are not available to be picked up during spring break.
  • Child must be present for meal pick-up.

 

Cullman City Schools Technology Coordinator Michael Fowlkes said there have been changes to the website in light of the closure and pandemic. The Cullman City Schools’ website now has a pop-up when first visiting the page to alert visitors of the system closure and a COVID-19 statement and information section have been added.

The next scheduled Cullman City School Board meeting is April 21, 2020 at 5 p.m., but Patterson noted, “If need be, we can make changes to that.”

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com