Area schools ready to confront COVID-19 in new year

Here's what school may look like this fall

ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Schools won’t be the same when students return this fall. Two school districts in the River Region are either preparing or already well stocked to fight COVID-19 long before the first bell rings for the new year.

In Elmore County, buses roll out Aug. 10 and in the foyer at Stanhope-Elmore High School, a wall mounted with a thermometer, sprayers, masks and instructions to stay apart. In short, students are about to walk into a new normal. Elmore County Superintendent Richard Dennis is well aware just one COVID-19 case could be a problem, but he is prepared.

“If necessary I might shut down, send one person home. I may send 14 people home,” said Dennis.

Schools are preparing to welcome students while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions.
Schools are preparing to welcome students while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

The new year promises to be unlike anything the Stanhope-Elmore High School principal has ever seen before.

“Not nervous, a little concerned. My priority this year especially is the health and safety of our staff,” said Principal Ewell Fuller.

One of the upsides to all the changes is that students will get room service when it comes to lunch, and they often serve their favorite: chicken wings.

“Some people will like, but some want to be out here with big crowds and stuff,” said Stanhope-Elmore High School in-coming junior Gabe Taunton.

“We’re providing it where the method is the meal is proportioned, placed in trays and sealed,” said Elmore County Public School Child Nutrition Director Cacyce Davis.

Over in neighboring Autauga County, a similar plan is in place at Prattville Elementary.

“The board actually approved to help us purchase water filling stations,” said Principal Stefanie Aaron.

Both schools will begin the new year with fewer students because many of them will take advantage of virtual learning.

“About 30 percent county wide so far,” according to Aaron.

Either way, school leaders head into the term ready to confront the challenges before them, a teachable moment for all that change is constant.

Autauga County students return on Sept. 8. Montgomery Public Schools begin Aug. 10 but will be virtual for the first nine weeks of the new school year.

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