MADISON, Ala. — The schedule for school-based reentry for Madison City Schools high school students has been changed over COVID-19 concerns.
As part of an announcement about the cancellation of two football games, Madison City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols said:
"We are delaying our school-based reentry schedule for all high school students for one week. Both of our high schools will resume school-based learning on an A/B rotation on Sept. 28.
"Until further notice, all middle and high school students will continue on an A/B rotational schedule."
Nichols stressed that the cases of COVID-19 among the Bob Jones football team should not be blamed on staff and coaches. He said, "I want to make sure all of you know that this sudden spike in the BJHS football team is not because the coaching staff did not follow our procedures. All of our coaches in the district have done a great job since the summer of adhering to the AHSAA and Madison City guidelines."
RELATED: Bob Jones High School cancels two football games over COVID-19 concerns
Later, Superintendent Nichols gave an update on COVID-19 in Madison City Schools:
"For this week, we have a total of 15 (fourteen are students and one employee spread across five schools) confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in our district.
"We have 170 quarantined that are spread across seven schools from being associated with positive or presumptive cases.
"Here is the breakdown:
Columbia - 1 student
Rainbow - 1 student
Liberty - 1 student and 1 teacher
Bob Jones - 9 students
James Clemens - 2 students
Columbia - 5 students and 1 teacher
Mill Creek - 1 student
Rainbow - 1 student
Discovery - 21 students
Liberty - 10 students
Bob Jones - 120 students and 10 teachers
James Clemens - 1 teacher
"Due to the loss of teaching staff to quarantine and the shortage of substitute teachers, I felt the need to delay the high school rotation. Madison is a small community and we are not sure how these positive cases at Bob Jones could affect our teaching staff in other schools. Currently, 37 of the Bob Jones and James Clemens teaching staff have accepted extra teaching assignments on their planning period to accommodate the scheduling demands of school-based and virtual classes. Due to this number of extra teaching periods, we cannot easily cover teaching positions vacant due to the effects of quarantined staff. School principals have reported difficulties in acquiring substitute teachers this year. Our substitute teacher pool is very low compared to previous years.
RELATED: Teacher departures leave schools scrambling for substitutes amid COVID-19
"The Alabama Department of Public Health is currently active in the contact tracing of these cases and will update us as needed. As I have stated from the beginning of the school year, we will be flexible in our schedule and our plans to meet this ever-changing issue. If we find out next week that the need for quarantining is not as widespread on our teaching staff, we can adjust our school-based plans. Our goal is to return our secondary students to everyday school-based learning like our elementary students."
"Although we have had these increases of cases this week, I want to thank our staff and teachers for doing a great job of following the procedures and protocols we set for the district. I want to make sure all of you know that this sudden spike in the BJHS football team is not because the coaching staff did not follow our procedures. All of our coaches in the district have done a great job since the summer of adhering to the AHSAA and Madison City guidelines.