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TCS students returning to traditional setting

Troy City Schools is preparing for more than 160 students to return to traditional classrooms as the second nine weeks begins on Monday.

The students – including 102 at Troy Elementary at 64 at Charles Henderson Middle School – enrolled in virtual classes during the first nine weeks as part of the district’s COVID-19 option for families. “As we started with the COVID-19 related options, we have given the options for students to return at the end of every nine weeks,” said Cynthia Thomas, superintendent. “The first nine weeks ends this Friday, so we’ve given the virtual students the opportunity to come back to the traditional classrooms” beginning Oct. 26.

Students in grades 9-12 are on a block schedule and cannot switch from virtual to traditional until the end of the semester in January.

Troy City Schools officials offered students the opportunity to enroll in traditional classrooms or virtual learning programs in September a response to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. As of Monday, about 41 students at CHMS and 140 at Troy Elementary School will remain on virtual learning programs.

“That number does surprise me,” Thomas said. “I would’ve thought we would have more students opting to return after the first nine weeks, but perhaps their parents still have concerns.”

Thomas said faculty and staff had done an exceptional job with COVID-19 safety protocols. “They have done an outstanding job helping to mitigate concerns,” she said.

And, she said teachers have worked tirelessly to provide quality education through both in-person and virtual platforms. “Whenever technology is involved, you have a few bumps along the way, but the virtual options have gone well,” Thomas said.

The biggest concern for administrators is attendance and participation on the virtual platform. “It’s more of a truancy issue than an academic one,” Thomas said. “Some students are just not logging in and that becomes a truancy issue.” She said administrators have a plan to work with those students individually to help resolve concerns and keep students on track for meeting requirements.

She also said teachers will be working to ensure third-grade students are prepared to meet the Alabama Literacy Act standards, which take effect this school year. The act specifies that any student not reading at or above grade level in third grade must be held back.

“I know that traditional instruction is more effective that virtual instruction, particularly as it relates to students with any kind of learning issues,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure those students considered at-risk academically have the resources and instruction they need.”

Thomas said school officials are contacting all the parents who have opted to return to traditional classrooms to outline procedures.

“We’re in the process of making sure that happens,” she said.