Cullman City Schools sets post-pandemic plan for 2021-2022 school year

(Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With vaccines roll outs and COVID-19 cases on the decline, Cullman City Schools is laying the framework for what the 2021-2022 school year will look like. Thankfully, it should get things largely back to how they were pre-pandemic — with a few changes and improvements to help students and faculty deal with the post-pandemic year.  

The school system’s in-person instruction plan, which is pending approval by the Alabama State Department of Education, includes things like infrastructure upgrades to improve air quality, the use of more outdoor classroom space, a focus on academic intervention and retaining some of the health and safety amenities put in place over the past year. 

“We feel this is a responsible, workable plan that will help students safely return to a more comfortable learning environment as we look ahead to this fall,” Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said. “We want to take what we’ve learned through this difficult year and implement some of those improvements moving forward, while also finding a way to safely get things back to normal.” 

The plan calls for the system to  

  • Sustain the extra nurse hired during the 2020-2021 school year  
  • Maintain the hand sanitizing stations/supplies on each campus  
  • Allow face masks or coverings to be worn on campuses but make them optional  
  • Update various HVAC systems to improve air quality across campuses  
  • Update various windows and doors for air quality and  
  • Install bottle-filling water fountains. 

Along with extension of the use of outdoor learning spaces, each school will increase the exterior Wi-Fi internet access points on all campuses. The system will also employ two mental health and social workers, with one in K-6, and the second at the 7-12 grade level, in order to promote social and emotional awareness through professional development. 

Steps are being taken to provide additional intervention and preparation for students who may have fallen behind during 2020, including: 

  • a part-time counselor at Cullman City Primary School  
  • the employment of up-to six academic intervention teachers  
  • building-based math coaches supported by AMSTI and 
  • the implementation of a social and emotion program with counseling support at Turning Point.  

Cullman City Schools is also offering free secondary summer remediation programs at Cullman Middle School and Cullman High School, like:  

  • ACT preparation and a skill-building program at CHS  
  • Assistive technology in special needs classrooms 
  • IXL software to support academic intervention in grades K-12  
  • Additional academic intervention materials and professional development to address reading and mathematics deficiencies and  
  • A truancy officer to support families with school attendance and avoiding chronic absenteeism. 

Parents are also being encouraged to do home screening of their children for any signs of illness such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. Parents should keep their child home if they have any symptoms of illness.