When Limestone County schools reopen August 7, around 2,000 of the approximately 8,300 students in the district will not be returning to traditional schooling, according to district superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse.
Dr. Shearouse says less students in schools means class sizes can now be smaller, but more teachers are being hired to instruct virtually.
“We are using some of our existing teachers, we’re also looking at some contract teachers to help fill in the gaps so that our classrooms don’t have too many students,” Dr. Shearouse said.
Schools throughout the district will take a randomized approach to doing student temperature checks. Shearouse says these checks would target specific schools and take place in the morning as students arrive.
“We would move that around to make sure that we covered all schools at some point and then of course as we move forward, if there are specific hot spots that we have in a certain area, we may decide to stay several days at a certain school and check temperatures there,” Dr. Shearouse said.
As an additional precaution, he says that the maintenance department has created separate areas for sick and healthy children.
“They've established a well room and a sick room so that you don't combine those two because you do have a lot of students who are well, for example, coming to the school nurse to take their medication,” Dr. Shearouse said.
Despite the concerns surrounding the return to schools this fall, Dr. Shearouse highlights the important role schools in Limestone County play for students and their families.
“I do believe that public schools are essential. We have a lot of our parents who go to work each and every day and they need someone to take care of their students,” he said.
Many rely on the meals schools provide as well.
“About 51% of our students are on free and reduced lunch, so I know there’s a need to have students in school so that they can get a healthy meal in the morning for breakfast and also at lunch,” Dr. Shearouse said.
The Limestone County Board of Education will next meet on July 28 to discuss reopening plans.