CCBOE updates 2020-2021 school year calendar due to COVID-19

Cullman Tribune file photo

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) on Monday night discussed changes to the 2020-21 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest of which is to the school year calendar.

During the board’s work session, Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette announced that the state superintendent has asked schools to push back their start dates as far as possible, at least to Aug. 20, 2020, and will give out waivers allowing school systems to operate for 175 student days rather than 180 for the 2020-21 school year. To accommodate this change, three professional development days throughout the year will be replaced with regular student days, and the school year will end on a Friday next year instead of a Wednesday. Teachers will still have the same start date, Aug. 3, and can use the extra time between then and the students’ start date for planning purposes since they will not have that time throughout the year. The board voted during the meeting to adopt this update to the calendar.

This later start date, Barnette said, is meant to help implement guidelines outlined in a new handbook (which will be made available June 19) that covers how to approach reopening schools in a safe, healthy and efficient manner.

The specific restrictions and requirements that need to be implemented are unknown until the handbook is released, but Barnette stated during the work session, “I do not have any reason to think that we won’t (return face-to-face in August).”

During the board meeting, the board accepted two requests from Anita Kilpatrick, textbook coordinator, to approve the K-5 elementary math series and health textbook series adoptions as voted on by their respective textbook committees: “Into Math” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and “Essential Health” (Goodheart-Wilcox) 2018, ISBN# 978-1-6-3563-050-3. It also voted to approve tennis and soccer events as athletic events for the purpose of invoicing each school for fuel used. The purpose of this item was to have the CCBOE cover the costs of athletic trips for tennis and soccer using school buses like it does for other sports. Barnette stated that many schools that recently added those teams were having to shoulder the costs themselves even though those sports were generally less lucrative than other sports for which the CCBOE pays for transportation. 

The CCBOE also approved:

  • paying select teachers (not listed) a stipend for district-approved summer work and/or training
  • raising the student lunch prices $0.30 for a new cost of $2.75
  • request from Child Nutrition Development to operate its summer feeding program from June 10-July 15
  • requests from Good Hope, Holly Pond, Vinemont and West Point High Schools to offer drivers education classes during the summer
  • requests from all county high schools to hold credit advancement/summer school

For the Superintendent’s Report, Barnette reported that starting next week (with the exception of next Monday in observance of Memorial Day) county schools and the central office will be open Monday-Thursday and closed Friday-Sunday for deep cleaning.

He also stated that kindergarten registration will take place June 1-15. Detailed instructions and the list of dates for each elementary school can be found on the front page of the CCBOE website (

Finally, with the exception of three schools, all county school graduations will take place Saturday, May 23 at 6 p.m. at the school’s football field. The exceptions are the Child Development Center (May 22, 1 p.m. in the CDC gym), Holly Pond (May 23, 5 p.m. at the football field) and Fairview (May 23, 7 p.m. at the football field). Attendance will be limited to 10 guests per graduate. In the event of rain Saturday evening, the ceremonies will be moved to 2 p.m. Sunday, and rain Sunday will move the ceremonies to Monday.

The live stream of Monday night’s meeting can be found on the Cullman County Schools Facebook page. The next meeting will take place Thursday, June 18, starting with a work session at 5:30 p.m. followed immediately by the board meeting.

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Heather Mann