MONTGOMERY - The Alabama State Department of Education is taking a proactive approach to assist districts during the COVID-19 closure period. State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey is assembling a Superintendent's Extending Access to Learning Task Force comprised of educators and other partners from across the state, who will bring a wealth of expertise and experiences to this critical work. Mackey will host the first task force meeting Thursday, March 19, and will continue to meet with the group virtually every week until further notice.
This task force will lead Alabama's efforts to identify short and long-term priorities for schoolwide operations, both functionally and instructionally.
"We know there is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach to schoolwide operations, so this task force will help us ensure that statewide guidance encompasses multiple facets for all of Alabama's districts. While we do now know what the future holds, we want to assure Alabama's educators, parents, students and community stakeholders that we are committed to helping all of our districts get through these uncertain times while identifying and offering access to all available resources, both operational and educational, through a variety of delivery models," Mackey said.
Through the work of this task force, a systemic framework will be developed to provide districts with timely information, as well as work collaboratively to research and identify all available options in collaboration with other states' leaders facing some of the same situations.
The task force will first work to identify various research-based learning pathways and resources that are available to meet the needs of all districts in Alabama, evaluate the capacity of current statewide "non-traditional" instructional delivery methods and develop a statewide plan for short and long-term implementation. They will also prioritize specific operational and instructional components that must be addressed to ensure that when schools do reopen their doors, high school students are still on track for college and career plans, as well as have a plan for elementary and middle school-aged student "gaps" that may arise during the unpredictable closure period.
As of Wednesday, March 18, all 142 of Alabama's public school districts will be closed and have provided students with short-term "optional enrichment learning activities" through a variety of delivery methods, including hard copy, digital and blended modals. However, Alabamians must be prepared in the event that schools do no reopen April 6. If that scenario becomes reality, Mackey's new task force will be prepared to provide districts with short (end of school year through summer) and long-term (August, 2020) options to meet the needs of Alabama's students.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.