Cullman City Schools to offer traditional, virtual options; classes begin Aug. 19

Facial coverings will be worn at certain times

Cullman Tribune file photo

Updated 7-9-20 at 6:18 p.m.

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman City Schools students will start the school year Aug. 19, according to a message sent to parents Thursday by Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson. Families will choose between traditional and virtual learning environments. The message said facial coverings should be worn upon arrival and dismissal by students and during transitions throughout the school day.

Patterson’s message:

The Cullman City Schools will begin the 2020-21 school year on August 19, 2020 pending guidelines set forth by the Alabama State Department of Education. We are excited to begin the new school year though we will have many challenges ahead of us. Our primary goal is to provide a safe and instructionally sound plan for reopening the Cullman City Schools.

We are providing parents two options for their child to receive the best education possible.

The Traditional option allows students to return to the school campus and receive face to face instruction, although the school day will look different than in the past. The Traditional option includes a remote opportunity transitioning from campus to online work at home as needed following guidance from the ADPH and CDC to ensure a safe learning environment.

The Virtual option allows students to work from home through the Schoology learning platform. Attendance is tracked daily requiring students to log in daily to complete assignments. Grades will be given to determine promotion/retention (same as with Traditional option). With the Virtual option, instruction is directed by a virtual teacher not the classroom teacher.

We all must work together to help ensure safety by following guidance from the ADPH and CDC.

We ask that parents:

  • Check your children’s temperatures and do not send them to school if 100.4 or greater.
  • Monitor your children for symptoms daily, including cough, congestion, shortness of breath, or gastrointestinal symptoms. Any positives should be kept home from school.

Our attendance policy will be revised and shared at a later date.

The CCS Central Office has sent out parent surveys via email to determine which educational option parents feel is best for their child. Parents are asked to register for one option by July 17, 2020. You will need to complete a separate form for each student in your family. Please see the attached documents for answers to common questions and to communicate your choice of school setting.

We want all of our parents to know how much we appreciate their patience as we navigate our new school year.

A Q & A document addressed the following:


Traditional instruction: Students will be on school campuses in classrooms with teachers, face-to-face. There will be some changes to the instructional and daily processes to protect teachers and students as much as possible.

Hybrid Instruction: A fraction of students will work on-campus while the remaining students will work remotely. These groups will then alternate so that all students have face-to-face and online interaction.

Remote instruction: With guidance from health officials, there may be periods of time that a classroom or school building must be closed for the safety of students and teachers. In this instance, classroom teachers will teach students remotely. Attendance will be taken and grades will also be assigned for work completed.

Virtual instruction: Students will work on an online curriculum from home. Students will have a teacher to contact who will be responsible to record student attendance (measured by assignment completion) and grades for work completed. Families must commit to a one-semester term at minimum for virtual instruction.


Will students be required to wear masks at school?

Facial coverings should be worn upon arrival and dismissal by students and during transitions throughout the school day.

What will protocol be if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID?

We will follow the protocol set by the ADPH. We will discuss those details closer to time for school to start.

Will there be temperature checks when students enter the school building?

Currently, we are asking parents to monitor for fever and symptoms prior to arrival at school.

How will social distancing be maintained in the classroom?

Students will practice social distancing to the extent possible in the classroom. We will do our best to follow guidance from ADPH. This will be an ongoing discussion, and more information will be provided closer to the start of school.

Will class/block changes be staggered to reduce hallway congestion?

Hallway traffic will be staggered.

Will students who are showing symptoms (coughing, sneezing, etc.) be separated/quarantined?

Students who become ill will be placed in a designated area of quarantine with a facial covering in place, and parents/guardians will be contacted to pick up the student.

How will school and classrooms be cleaned and sanitized?

We will follow CDC and ADPH guidance for sanitation.

Can I drop off items to my child as I have in the past?

No personal items or lunches may be dropped off in the school office. Please make plans for transfer of these items before or after school. Medication must be coordinated with the school nurse. Emergent situations may be communicated with the school administration.


Will students attend school every day under the traditional option?

Yes. We are planning for students who choose traditional learning to be able to attend every day.

Will the length of the school day be the same/normal times from last year?

Currently, that is the plan for the traditional option.

Will there still be a fall break and spring break?

Yes. At this time, we do not plan to change the approved calendar.

Will students stay in the classroom all day?

The level of risk in our area will determine how much time is spent in the classroom. We expect student transitions to be limited for a while.

What are the class sizes going to be like?

We anticipate smaller class sizes due to the virtual learning option.

Will electives be offered, and if so, what will electives look like?

We are currently planning to offer electives, but they will look different. For example, the art teacher may need to travel to the child’s classroom as opposed to the child traveling to the art room.

Will students leave the classroom for P.E, music, art and other electives?

If students leave the classroom to attend electives, cleaning will occur between classes. It is likely that elective teachers will travel to classrooms in the primary and elementary school settings.

Will there be recess?

Currently, P.E. and recess could occur with limited numbers and cleaning protocols in place.

If my child is in the band, what will that look like?

We will share information concerning band, choir, etc., once we receive guidance.

What will lunch look like for students?

Food services will most likely take place in classrooms until our COVID situation has improved.

Will you have extended day school care this year?

We are planning to offer extended day school care.

In the traditional classroom setting, will substitute teachers be trained to handle situations and follow protocols?

Substitute teachers will be trained on best practices.


What does “remote” mean? Can you explain the remote portion a little bit more?

“Remote instruction” is part of the traditional option. Remote instruction occurs when a student is not face-to-face with the classroom teacher but is still receiving instruction from that teacher via multiple avenues.

We ask that you choose either traditional or virtual instruction. Choosing remote instruction is not an option.

If you choose traditional, you may need to float between traditional and remote settings.

  • Your child will attend class daily, but will be equipped to go to remote instruction as circumstances dictate.
  • For example, if we have to close a classroom for disinfecting, your child would transition from traditional to remote and then back to traditional.

We will release more detailed information soon.

For the remote instruction option, is remote learning up to the parents’ discretion or is this decided by the school? Is there a limit as to how much remote learning can be done?

The decision to transition to remote learning will be made by school district administrators and the board, based on guidance from local and state officials.


Will virtual learning be online?

The virtual learning curriculum will be online.

Will the online option be an option for the entire school year? When would students be allowed/required to join back in the traditional setting?

Virtual learning is an option for the entire school year, but you will have the option to change if needed. We ask that students make changes at semesters only. Students must maintain course progress to stay enrolled in the virtual learning option.

How many hours a day will be required for virtual learning?

Students should expect to contribute at least 4 hours per day to virtual instruction. Some students will require more time, some will require less. It will be clear what the assignment expectations are for each day.

Full-time virtual instruction will require a greater daily time commitment than was experienced during the last quarter of 2019-2020.

Will classes begin at a specific time each day or will students be able to complete work at their own pace?

Students will be able to work independently. Teachers will have regular check-in times and will provide assistance as needed.

If we choose virtual learning, will the school system supply devices and internet connection?

Chromebooks will be available to every student.

Internet service is available through many service providers and may also be purchased as a tax-deductible (check with your tax professional) donation to Cullman City Schools. Please see the CCS webpage “Give” link (This link will open WiFi on the Go in a new window.)

What is the attendance policy for virtual students?

Students will be required to stay on-target for completion of coursework. Each day will have specific assignments for each subject area. If a student is unable to complete work for any period of time, it is a great idea to communicate with your child’s virtual teacher.

If we choose the virtual learning option, how would sports/band/etc. participation work? For example, if baseball/band is one of our classes, would my child only attend in-person for that period?

Yes, that is the plan.

How do we enroll/sign-up for virtual learning?

Instructions will come from your child’s school soon.

How will virtual learning work day to day?

Students will log into a content management system (website) and will complete work that is assigned for that specific day. The whole idea behind a virtual school is flexibility. Students will have freedom to work ahead but will always be expected to be on track at the end of each week. Meaning, no one will check each day to see that work has been completed for that day, but the virtual teacher will check in a couple of times each week to see how students are progressing. If a student is behind in their work at the end of a week, the teacher will contact the student and parent/guardian. If this behavior persists, the student may be required to work in person in an on-campus, isolated location until the student is on track for completion of coursework.

How will parents of virtual students be supported?

Training for parents of virtual students will be offered.

How will students be graded under virtual learning?

Completion of assignments and grades earned on assignments and tests will make up a student’s course grade.

Will gifted and talented services be available if students are enrolled in virtual learning?

A remote option for gifted services will be available to students working virtually.

Will students be tested for the gifted program if they choose virtual classes?

Any required face-to-face testing will take place following recommended safety guidelines to the greatest extent possible. This includes any state-mandated student testing.

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Wendy Sack