Chilton County Schools making temporary changes after 12 faculty members forced to quarantine from COVID-19 exposures

Chilton Co. Schools deal with COVID and staffing

CHILTON CO., Ala. (WBRC) - One Chilton County school is struggling to keep classrooms staffed after 12 faculty members went into quarantine.

“We would only close for a handful of reasons,” Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin said. “One being if it wasn’t safe, meaning if there was an outbreak, and that is not the case in this situation.”

A dozen of Jemison Intermediate school faculty members are now quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19, but many did not test positive.

“Not all of them have tested positive for coronavirus,” Griffin said. “There is only one or two that have tested positive. The rest of them are either quarantined for things outside the school, contact tracing, and taking care of other kids in their families that have been in quarantine.”

Griffin said the school is clean and safe.

“The school has been sanitized,” Griffin said. “There is not a mass outbreak of coronavirus cases. However, this is a staffing challenge.”

Griffin said the school is struggling to find substitutes.

“Even though we have several signed up, they may not be available,” he said. “That becomes a challenge because they are human beings too and dealing with the same stuff we are. The virus, quarantine, and family issues.”

Griffin said 85% of students in the district are learning in person, so closing the school wasn’t the solution.

“It would have been 450 to 500 students that would have been required to have outside supervision for the next week or so,” Griffin said. “That would be a greater challenge for those parents than it is for us to provide some supervision in a different way.”

Griffin said next week will look different for students. All assignments will be posted online and students will be in their classrooms working. Griffin said in some cases, teachers may be outside the classroom supervising.

“Depends on where they are,” he said. “They could be in a common area. It’s been common to put students in a lunch room, which are bigger, and auditoriums that are bigger, so we have adequate spacing to meet the health guidelines.”

Griffin said there will be no PE or special classes and if students don’t want to come to campus next week then they don’t have to.

“If they choose to not come, then they will be excused under the Coronavirus guidelines by the state,” Griffin said. “If they want to have their work provided, contact the school and the school will provide them a written packet.”

Griffin said he is passionate about keeping all Chilton County schools open.

“We are going to do everything we can to keep the school open,” Griffin said. “I do not plan to close it.”

Griffin said the staff members should all be out of quarantine by next week and classes will resume normally.

Jemison Intermediate posted this statement to parents on it’s Facebook page:

“We are now down 12 faculty members. Most aren’t positive, but are being forced to quarantine because of direct exposure or caring for a child who is positive or quarantined due to exposure. If there is ever a time when your student is exposed, you will be contacted IMMEDIATELY. In this case, no news is good news! We want to assure you that we are doing everything in our power to isolate your children as much as possible for safety, provide them with actual instruction, and feed them a hot breakfast, lunch, and snack. We also realize the importance of trying to provide structure and create a positive school climate during this trying time. If a student submits an online assignment or picks up a packet, he/she will be counted as present. There is no need to call the office to let us know. Teachers are furiously working on creating grade level packets at this time. We will make copies and assemble those first thing in the morning. We will post as soon as they are available for pick up. If your student chooses the online option, you are NOT required to pick up the packet. Thank you for your continued support. Wednesday, December 9th is a regularly scheduled E Learning Day. We are hopeful that things will improve by the end of the week and some of our teachers will be able to return. We will keep you updated!”

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