New school year brings new challenges

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Photo by Robert Noles/Opelika Observer

By Hannah Lester
and Will Fairless

Opelika City Schools welcomed students back last Wednesday, Aug. 12, for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

According to a statement from OCS, the schools’ staffs and students have been doing well to adjust to the new normal. “We are very proud of the students and how they have followed the guidelines. We are all doing our best to wear masks and practice social distancing.” The statement continues, “Our teachers and staff have worked very hard to prepare for the beginning of school.”

The first few days of in-person school were focused on new routines involving hand washing and social distancing, especially with younger students. Likewise with virtual school, the first few days were used to acclimate teachers and students to that educational medium.

OCS Superintendent Mark Neighbors said, “As I visited the schools on the first day, I saw many excited students and teachers. It was good to have students back in the buildings. It was also good to have our virtual teachers engaging with their students on the first day.”

Auburn City Schools

The first week of school at Auburn City Schools ended on Friday and with it came nine confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Auburn City Schools Superintendent Cristen Herring released a statement Sunday evening confirming the COVID-19 cases and said that 112 students were required to quarantine as a result.

All nine of the current coronavirus cases were in middle or high school students, grades 7 through 12., Herring said in the release.

“Students with a positive test result must refrain from attending school for a minimum of ten days including a period of time without symptoms of COVID-19,” she said. “Students in close contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19 are quarantined for 14 days, in accordance to guidelines provided by The Alabama Department of Public Health.”

The rumors started late last week but went unconfirmed by the school system. A release was sent out Friday that said the number of cases would not be released, but there were precautions taken within the schools.

The follow-up Sunday release was then sent out.

Students are required to screen for the virus before entering the school or bus, Herring said.

If symptoms are detected, including a fever over 100.4, cough, runny nose, congestion, vomiting or other common coronavirus symptoms, the student must stay home.

“The matter of community transmission generates an additional impact on school attendance, for both students and employees,” Herring said. “In the circumstance of one family member being ill or having a positive or pending COVID-19 test, all other members of the household must be quarantined and follow the direction of healthcare officials.”

Both school options, whether in-person or virtual, will continue to proceed for Auburn City Schools.

“While each of us desires a return to the traditions of fall and the festivities we enjoy, personal responsibility for mitigating the risk of transmission is incumbent upon every person,” Herring said. “In order to protect the potential of school success, minimizing exposure and infection requires our collective engagement in the practices of social distancing, proper use of facial covering and stringent personal hygiene.”

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