Bibb County Schools
Coronavirus / COVID-19
Statement Update 3/15/20
School Closing – As most of you may already know, Governor Kay Ivey declared a State of Emergency during a 5:00 PM press conference on Friday afternoon. This announcement followed President Donald Trump’s declaration of a National Emergency due to the Coronavirus Pandemic a few hours earlier. According to Governor Ivey and Alabama School Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey, all public schools must close at the end of the day on Wednesday, March 18 and will remain closed until at least Monday morning, April 6. This means that Bibb County Schools will be closed for at least 12 consecutive school days beginning on Thursday, March 19. Keep in mind that we already had our Spring Break scheduled for the week of March 23-27. According to Dr. Mackey, a decision on whether the closing will be extended beyond April 6 will be made during the week of March 30. So, there is a chance that our schools could be closed longer than the April 6 target date of return.
Closing schools can be an extremely difficult hardship on working parents who don’t have a lot of options when it comes to suddenly needing child care for younger children. Whether an unexpected school closing is the result of dangerous weather, or broken utilities, or the flu or other virus outbreak, we are always aware that there are working parents that are caught between the demands of their employer and the need to make sure that young children are properly cared for. Most teachers and other school employees do not have this dilemma and sometimes fail to see the strain this puts on other working parents.
I know that many of you – and maybe me included – have felt from the outset that this Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak has been overly hyped by the media and not as big a deal as any other seasonal flu. But even though it is similar to other viruses, it IS different. It is a NEW virus. There is no vaccine at this time, but we know that the best medical researchers and scientist from around the world are working on this. However, being a new strain of coronavirus, there is still a lot of unknown parameters that our best and brightest doctors and scientists have not yet had time to work out. Many of these researchers work at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These are the experts in the field. And if they strongly suggest that we take measures such as cancelling large gatherings, limiting travel, and closing schools, then that is what we should do.
As has been shared in social media in various forms, in the days to weeks that come – we would rather KNOW that we overreacted to this pandemic than REGRET that we underreacted.
Life will eventually return to normal.
But lives lost to a cavalier attitude or dismissive response to a new and unknown virus are lost forever.
Therefore, we have made the decision to close all Bibb County Schools effective immediately.
… with an established target date of return being Monday, April 6. As stated at the beginning of this memo, a decision on extending this closure beyond April 6 will be made sometime during the week of March 30 by leaders from the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama Department of Education, the Center for Disease Control, the Governor’s office, and other state and national leaders in the fields of health and epidemiology.
Employees: Employee groups (administrators, teachers, support staff, maintenance workers, bus drivers, substitutes, etc.) will receive updates and communications through email and texts from their principals and other district supervisors in the coming hours and days. We will disinfect and deep clean our schools and buses prior to students returning to campus. We will make medications available for parent pickup on Monday and Tuesday. We will discuss the possibility of student meal availability and pickup.
Student Medications: We will ask all school administrators and nurses to be at the schools on Monday and Tuesday morning, between 9:00 – 12:00, so that parents may come by to pick up needed medications for their children.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Schools: Although the coronavirus can potentially live on many surfaces for 2-3 days, we have not had any students or employees with a confirmed case. Nevertheless, we will probably wait until Tuesday or later to get into our schools and completely clean and disinfect. We will utilize our district custodial staff at each school, possibly along with other paid and unpaid volunteers, to get this done. More information on this task will be forthcoming.
Child Nutrition Program / School Lunches: Although our schools will be closed during this time, administrators will meet early this week to discuss our options and ability to offer meals to our students, either through a couple of school site “grab-and-go” pickup points, available area food banks, or some combination of both. Again, more information on this possible service will be forthcoming.
Report Cards: Student report cards were supposed to go out on Thursday, March 19. We do not plan to mail these, so they will be available upon student return. Parents with access can always see their child’s grades on the iNow home portal.
Co-op Students: Because schools are closed, co-op students will not be compelled to work and earn hours of work credit by the school district. Although specific guidance from the CTE leadership at the State Department of Education has not been received at this time, our policy will be to leave this up to each individual employer and the student and the student’s parent. Mrs. Beam or Mr. Franklin will be in contact with our Co-op students once they receive specific information from ALSDE regarding an adjustment to required work hours. We will neither advocate for, nor deny, those students with paid employment the opportunity to continue to earn a paycheck. Whether those hours will count on the number required for course completion will be an ALSDE/CTE decision.
Kindergarten Registration: Any elementary schools that had their Kindergarten registration dates during the next three weeks will be rescheduled. We will not know dates for rescheduling registration until on or after March 30. We will release that information as soon as possible.
Middle School and High School Athletics: As per a memo received by AHSAA, all athletic events including, but not limited to, contests, practices, weight lifting and conditioning are hereby suspended during this time. We have some of the most dedicated athletes in the state at West Blocton Middle School, West Blocton High School, Centreville Middle School, and Bibb County High School. As much as it saddens me, I cannot allow for our gyms, weight rooms, game fields, or practice fields to be used during this time that schools are closed. Student athletes may work out on their own, with their parents’ permission and supervision, at any other public or private training facility, but our coaches (whether employees or board approved volunteers) are strictly prohibited from attending or directing any of these workouts. At the end of the closure period, the AHSAA will reevaluate health conditions and determine the status of spring sports championship play.
Little League / Youth Sports: Many of our communities participate in Dixie Youth Baseball. DYB has recommended that all local leagues suspend activity until at least April 4. This is a local league decision, and not the responsibility of the Bibb County School district. Please check with your local league and coaches.
Student Instruction / Instructional Packets: Unfortunately, due to the timing of the declarations by President Trump and Governor Ivey, students were not able to receive instructional packets for these two weeks out of school before leaving on Friday afternoon. I know that some teachers have shared with parents some great web sites that students can use for ongoing learning. There is a possibility that we could have packets available for pickup in conjunction with grab-and-go lunch pickup. More information about this possibility will be forthcoming.
Facilities: All of our buildings will be unavailable during this time of mandated closure, except of course for use by the school district. Please contact and notify anyone who might have made arrangements to rent or use your facilities of this decision.
School Based Health Clinics: Both of our SBHC’s will be closed by Cahaba Medical. We will share more information about this decision in a forthcoming announcement.
We will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
Superintendent, Bibb County Schools