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TCS will end virtual option in January

Troy City Schools will end virtual instruction and return all K-8 students to a traditional learning format in January 2021.

Superintendent Cynthia Thomas made the announcement last week, saying “we feel we have been very successful in managing the ever-changing needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the schools.”

Citing the need to ensure “all students receive a quality education,” Thomas said all students in grades kindergarten through eighth will be required to return to campus for classes effective Jan. 19, 2021.

“I firmly believe that returning to school is vital for the academic, mental and emotional and physical well-being of students,” she said. “This belief has driven our plan for all students to return to school as soon as possible.”

Thomas said the transition back to a classroom setting will including continued focus on hygiene, safe distancing and mask-wearing for students, faculty and staff. “During this transition, we will continue to remain focused on the safety and well-being of students and staff as well as quality teaching and learning,” she said in a statement. “However, due to the increase in numbers statewide, we ask you as parents and guardians to please help us during the Christmas holidays by limiting your family’s exposure to contracting COVID.

“If we all continue to follow the guidelines that have been given to us, we can continue to have school and will not have to s hut down as so many other districts are doing currently,” she added.

The push to return to a traditional in-person learning format may also help address the students who are not receiving instruction due to the changing formats. According to officials with the Alabama State Department of Education, more than 5,000 public school students have not shown up for any classes, virtual or in-person this school year.

“It’s a very difficult year instructionally and that doesn’t even touch the surface on the issues we will have with these 5,000 students who are not in school and we don’t know where they are,” Superintendent Ed Mackey told the Associated Press in November. Because the state funding formula is based on enrollment, losing the students could hit next year’s budget hard. Mackey said he’s hoping the Legislature will make a temporary change to avoid that, perhaps basing allocations on average enrollment for the past couple of years.