Cullman County Schools releases back-to-school guide

Cullman Tribune file photo

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Schools this week released more information about what school will look like this fall. Its “Cullman County Schools Better Together Recovery Plan for 2020-2021” guide for parents and FAQs were published to the system’s website,

The system announced last week that students will not be required to wear masks when classes resume Aug. 20 and acknowledged some parents wanted a virtual option. Now it says that virtual option will be available.

From the plan:

Traditional Learning

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional learning students may be required to transition to hybrid or remote learning students, not to be confused with virtual learning which is a separate program, listed in the box above (CCVA). Classroom teachers will be responsible for instruction (Seesaw, Google Classroom/Google Meet).
  • The students of parents who select the traditional learning option will return to school and will receive face-to-face instruction from classroom teachers.
  • Students who are new to the system will enroll at the local school.
  • Students enrolled in traditional learning may transition to hybrid or remote learning throughout the school year.
  • Students who enroll in traditional learning will remain in traditional learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year unless an exception is granted due to extenuating circumstances.
  • Any student will have until September 3, 2020 to decide if traditional learning is right for them or if they should go to Virtual Learning.


 Virtual Learning

  • Parents who select this option will apply via the link available on the website. These students will be enrolled at their local school and participate in Cullman County Virtual Academy (CCVA).
  • Students enrolled at CCVA are assigned coursework that comes completely from a digital platform (SchoolsPLP or Access) and is facilitated by virtual academy instructors.
  • Students enrolled in CCVA will not attend the school in an on-campus manner.
  • Enrollment for CCVA is July 13th – 21st. Applications can be found on the CCBOE website.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenging nature of the program, a trial period will be offered to first-time CCVA students. Any newly enrolled CCVA student will have until September 3, 2020 to decide if CCVA is right for them or if they should return to Traditional Instruction. After that date students enrolled in CCVA, will be required to complete the program for a minimum of one semester.


What is the difference between Traditional, Hybrid, Remote, and Virtual?

  • Traditional learning takes place in the classroom and may involve a combination of paper and digital tools.
  • Hybrid learning is a mixture of face-to-face and online learning. Students in traditional learning may transition to hybrid learning as needed throughout the school year. During hybrid learning, we will utilize a schedule modification of A/B rotations. Students with the last name beginning with the letters A-K will be Group A. Students with a last name beginning with the letters L-Z will be Group B. Households with multiple last names will follow the last name of the oldest child. Group A will attend school on Monday and Tuesday. Group B will attend school on Thursday and Friday. Teachers and staff will attend school Monday-Friday.
  • Remote learning provided by the classroom teachers will be used in the event of school closure. Students who are in traditional classrooms will transition to digital learning on the Google platform.
  • Virtual learning is for students enrolled in Cullman County Virtual Academy. Students are assigned coursework that comes from a digital platform facilitated by CCVA instructors. Students enrolled in CCVA will not attend the school in an on-campus manner. Applications can be found on the CCBOE website and will be accepted July 13th – July 21st.


Dr. Barnette will monitor health and safety factors in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health, school administrators, and other leaders. One or more schools could transition from traditional learning to hybrid, or remote learning during the 2020-2021 school year.


What should I know when considering Cullman County Virtual Academy for my child’s learning?

  • Cullman County Virtual Academy is a rigorous program in which virtual instruction will take place at home. It requires a greater daily time commitment than was experienced during the last quarter of 2019-2020.
  • There will be student attendance guidelines to follow.
  • Families will need access to reliable Internet and a device other than a cell phone.


What are the expectations for student attendance during the 2020-2021 school year?

  • Students who attend traditional school will be expected to attend on a regular basis in accordance with the attendance policy.
  • Students who attend virtual school will be expected to meet the expectations of the CCVA attendance guidelines.
  • The local school administration will consider extenuating circumstances related to COVID-19.
  • Parents are encouraged to screen their child for COVID-19 related symptoms before allowing them to board the bus or enter the school building.
  • In the case of COVID-19 related absence, the student is strongly encouraged to notify the school administrator and submit a physician’s note in a timely manner to the school.


Will changes be made in the lunchroom due to COVID-19?

  • Cullman County Board of Education and the local school will work with the ADPH to follow current guidelines.
  • New procedures and guidelines will be in place to ensure safety of your child and promote social distancing to the extent possible. In addition, meals will be pre-portioned, grab-and-go.
  • We encourage families to pay online using PayPams.
  • Visitors should have minimal access to the campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that visitors will not be allowed to eat lunch with their children.


How will cleanliness and safety measures be addressed on the school bus?

  • While we encourage parents to transport students to and from school as often as possible, buses will be cleaned and sanitized before each trip. Frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, arm rest, grab handles, etc. will be cleaned, as necessary.
  • Face coverings are not required for students to wear on the bus, but they are recommended to be worn while riding the bus and all instances of transitions.
  • Bus drivers may provide hand sanitizer for students, or students may bring hand sanitizer from home.
  • The first two seats behind the driver will be left open, if possible, and a seat will be designated for a student who is ill if needed.
  • Students from the same household will sit together in assigned seats when it is possible to do so.


What cleanliness measures will be in place during a regular school day?

  • Teachers and staff will receive training on proper cleaning procedures.
  • Signs will be posted in classrooms, hallways, and entrances to communicate about COVID-19 symptoms, preventative measures (including staying home when sick), good hygiene, and school/district specific protocols.
  • A schedule for the sanitation of facilities (door handles, stairwells, faucet handles, playground equipment, light switches, desks, tables, chairs, keyboards, cafeteria tables, etc.) will be created by the local school administration. This will include the cleaning of frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects after each use.
  • Restrooms will be sanitized multiple times daily. Soap and/or sanitizer will be available in the bathroom and throughout the school buildings. Students and staff will be allowed to bring hand sanitizer from home.
  • Drinking fountains will be disabled and students will be allowed to bring water bottles from home. We highly encourage you to label your child’s water bottle with their name.
  • We will conduct deep cleaning of schools prior to students/staff returning. We may schedule periodic cleanings during weekends or school holidays/breaks (to the extent practicable).
  • Teachers will teach and reinforce good hygiene measures such as handwashing, covering coughs, and face coverings.
  • Students can wear appropriate face masks/coverings, and other appropriate PPE as desired. However, masks/PPE should be free of inappropriate or offensive messages/images.
  • Teachers and staff are welcome to wear masks at their general discretion for their safety during the school day. Any required use of masks will be governed by the Alabama Health Order as directed by Governor Kay Ivey. (As of 6/26/2020, the current health (Item 13c) order requires the use of a mask or other facial covering by an education employee within 6 feet of a person of a different household.)
  • Teachers will allow for as much space as possible between desks and they will all face forward. Teachers will utilize table dividers in situations where students are face-to-face at tables.




  1. 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.

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

Currently, that is the plan for the traditional option.

  1. Which Alabama State Department of Education requirements will we be held responsible for during the 2020-2021 school year?

All expectations of the Alabama Literacy Act should be met. Currently, all state testing, including ACAP and ACT, are planned for the 2020-2021 school year. The RTI process will be more vital than ever as students return to school after months of school closure. Other yearly processes such as teacher evaluation are expected to continue as normal.

  1. Will there still be a fall break and spring break?

Yes. Fall break is currently scheduled for October 12-13. Spring Break is scheduled for March 29 – April 2, 2021.

  1. 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 music teacher may need to travel to the child’s classroom as opposed to the child traveling to the music room.

  1. 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 some elective teachers will travel to classrooms.

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

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

Your child can participate in Marching Band whether you choose traditional or virtual.

  1. What will lunch look like for students?

Breakfast and lunch will take place in the cafeteria with new procedures and guidelines in place to ensure safety and promote social distancing to the extent possible.

  1. Will school buses still run?

State guidance says that buses will still run. However, we encourage parents to transport students to and from school as often as possible.

  1. Will classes be allowed to take field trips?

Field trips will be limited.

  1. Can a student start traditional school at the beginning of the year and later choose to do virtual?

Yes, you can change from traditional to virtual learning during the grace period with a deadline of September 3rd. A student who chooses remote learning will continue that way for the remainder of the semester.

  1. Will teachers be expected to teach both in-class students and virtual?

The number of students choosing full-time virtual instruction will determine the number of teachers needed to provide instruction virtually. In the event there is a shutdown of school, teachers will be expected to continue providing instruction to their class through online platforms.

We do not expect teachers to do both in-face and virtual instruction at the same time.

  1. How will instruction be provided for students with extended absences due to a positive COVID-19 or mandatory quarantine?

Teachers will provide assignments to the students who are absent for an extended number of days through digital platforms or paper resources in the event they are needed. Parents of students who are absent for more than 14 consecutive days should collaborate with their classroom teacher and school administrators to develop a plan for instruction.

  1. Will teachers and students be responsible for grades in the event of school closure?

Grades will continue in the event of a school closure. Graded assignments should focus on formative assessment assignments and not summative assessments or tests. Formative assessment assignments may include but should not be limited to practice questions, writing assignments, daily grades, informal quizzes, or review questions. Students should receive feedback on all work completed in the event of the school closure. The feedback can be made through Google Classroom options, Seesaw, emails, or phone conferences.

  1. If my child’s school transitions from traditional to remote learning, will my child still receive meal service?

In the event that school(s) transition from traditional learning to remote learning, the system will develop a plan to the extent possible to provide meals.

  1. Will I be notified if a classmate of my child tests positive for COVID-19?

It is the responsibility and duty of the Alabama Department of Public Health to notify individuals of possible exposure to COVID-19.



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

“Hybrid / Remote” is part of the traditional option. Hybrid is a blend of face-to-face and online instruction. Remote learning will take place through online instruction if there is a temporary shutdown of school.

We ask that you choose between traditional and full virtual. Registration for the virtual option is open July 13th – July 21st.

Any student will have until September 3, 2020 to decide if virtual learning is right for them or if they should go to Traditional Learning. After that date students enrolled traditionally, will be required to complete the program for the 2020-2021 school year.

If you choose traditional, your child will attend class daily, but will be prepared to go to hybrid / remote as circumstances dictate. § For example, if we have to close a classroom for disinfecting, your child would transition from traditional to hybrid / remote and then back to traditional.



  1. If my child chooses Cullman County Virtual Academy, do I need to register my child in InfoSnap?

Yes. You will need to complete InfoSnap registration for your child and complete the CCVA registration form located on the website.

  1. Will the virtual/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 after one semester.

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

Full-time virtual instruction will require a greater daily time commitment than was experienced during the last quarter of 2019-2020. There will be student attendance guidelines to follow.

  1. 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, and teachers will have regular check-in times and will provide assistance as needed.

  1. 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.

  1. If my child chooses the virtual option, will he/she be able to attend CATA?

Yes. Virtual students will be able to attend CATA.

  1. How will parents of virtual students be supported?

Training for parents of virtual students will be offered.



  1. Will visitors be allowed on campus for events, eat lunch with students, walk students to class, etc.?

Visitors should have minimal access to the campus. This means that visitors will not be allowed to eat lunch with their children in the cafeteria or visit for other non-essential activities.

  1. Will students be required to wear masks at school or on the school bus?

Currently, it is recommended (but not mandated) if within 6 feet of someone outside your family. There may be times students need masks, but it’s not practical to think they will wear them all day.

  1. What will the 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.

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

Currently, we are asking parents to monitor for fever and symptoms before leaving home.

  1. 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.

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

Hallway traffic will be staggered to the extent practicable. Entrance and exit flow paths will be marked.

  1. 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 (if appropriate) in place, and parents will be called to pick up their child immediately.

  1. How will school and classrooms be cleaned and sanitized?

We will follow CDC and ADPH guidance for sanitation.


Additional questions should be submitted to


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Parent Guide for CCBOE Better Together by TheCullmanTribune on Scribd

BetterTogether FAQs by TheCullmanTribune on Scribd


Wendy Sack