Muscle Shoals City Schools

August 5, 2021

Updates to School Operations for Fall 2021


This is a modified school operations plan for the opening of the 2021-2022 school year.

As school opens in the fall, please know that MSCS will continue to implement practical health and wellness procedures in coordination with the State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH Guidance as of 8/2/2021).

After battling this pandemic for over a year now, we know the types of behaviors by individuals that can slow the spread of COVID-19. It is vital that each person in the Muscle Shoals faMily take the steps necessary to protect themselves and others from infection. It is the responsibility of ALL OF US to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

This plan details the modifications to the health protocols implemented during the 2020-2021 school year. This plan IS NOT intended to be comprehensive of all the precautions that MSCS will take.

As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 (click here for symptoms), we acknowledge the seemingly ever-changing aspect of guidance we receive from state and federal health officials. Hence, this plan is subject to change without notice, but as always, your child's safety and wellbeing are of utmost importance as we also work to provide a high quality educational experience.

As we have done for over a year now, we will continue to monitor the community spread of COVID-19 and alert you to any changes impacting school operations.

Back to Traditional Learning Platforms

Last year's experience with hybrid and virtual learning showed us that there is no substitute for traditional in-person learning. Our district believes that children should return to school in-person with safety precautions in place to support their health, social, emotional, and educational well-being.

District Health Protocols (As of 8/2/2021)

Screening - Parents should continue to screen children at home for signs or symptoms of any illness. As always, a child with a temperature of 100.4 shall remain at home and will not be permitted to return to school for 24 hours after the temperature is back to normal.

Facial Coverings (Masks) - It is preferred, in accordance with the recommendations below, that all staff, students, and visitors wear a mask when indoors and within 6 feet of another person.

All of the medical professional organizations below believe that VACCINATION is the best tool we have to combat the coronavirus pandemic. However, in the absence of a largely vaccinated public, the organizations RECENTLY provided the following guidance on mask wearing.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal indoor masking.
  • Center for Disease Control recommends universal indoor masking.
  • The Alabama Department of Public Health recommends universal indoor masking.
  • Local Shoals area pediatricians recommend universal indoor masking.

Each school campus will have facial coverings (masks) available for student or staff use.

Social Distancing - The ideal distance to prevent/slow the spread of viruses is 6 feet. In the absence of a 6 foot space barrier, distances as little as 3 feet provide a level of protection, particularly for children. When 6 feet distance cannot be achieved, a mask should be worn to slow the spread of germs.

Personal Hygiene - Hand sanitizer will be available in each classroom and throughout the hallways of each campus. Staff will constantly encourage hand washing and proper ways to sneeze and cough to slow the spread of germs.

Water Fountains - Will be open, but staff and students are encouraged to bring their own water to minimize use and touching of water fountains. Some water fountains are equipped with touchless bottle filling stations.

Exposure, quarantine, and contact tracing - MSCS will notify known contacts of individuals positive for COVID-19 and follow state health guidelines. Schools are required to report suspected and diagnosed COVID-19 cases, just as they are required to report other communicable diseases in the school environment, such as chickenpox and measles. When COVID-19 cases are identified in or reported to a school, they must be reported to public health using the Online COVID-19 Report Card. In addition, schools are required to report outbreaks of any kind, including outbreaks of COVID-19.

Individuals who test positive for or are diagnosed with COVID-19 must stay home for 10 days following the onset of symptoms or the positive test result, be 24 hours without fever or fever- reducing medications, and experience symptom improvement before returning from isolation.

School principals and nurses are mandatory reporters under Alabama’s Notifiable Disease law; therefore, all suspected and diagnosed COVID-19 cases must be reported using the Online COVID-19 Report Card.


School officials will notify individuals who are close contacts to a diagnosed COVID-19 case as soon as possible. This exposure notification is necessary to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in schools.

The CDC definition of a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person (lab-confirmed or presumed positive) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting from 2 days before they have any symptoms (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date), until they meet the criteria for discontinuing home isolation.

Asymptomatic vaccinated close contacts do not need isolate but should monitor for symptoms, and isolate if symptoms develop.

Asymptomatic close contacts who have tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19 in the prior 90 days do not need to isolate unless they develop symptoms.

Unvaccinated individuals who are identified as a close contact and do not meet the K-12 indoor classroom student "exclusion rule" need to isolate and may be quarantined by ADPH.

In certain circumstances, close contacts - regardless of vaccination status - may meet the ADPH "exclusion rule" (within 3 ft-6 ft distance range) for isolation/quarantine if exposed.

  • both individuals were engaged in consistent and correct use of facial coverings; and
  • other prevention strategies were in place


COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

This message should not be interpreted that we will require any individual to prove or reveal their vaccination status.


While not a requirement to attend school, we believe that vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.

From the CDC: Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. CDC has updated guidance for fully vaccinated people based on new evidence on the Delta variant.

“For those who are eligible, vaccination remains our most potent strategy for preventing disease among students, faculty, and staff, and vaccination also eliminates the need for quarantine among many of the close contacts in our schools.” Dr. Scott Harris, ADPH


Helen Keller Hospital will partner with MSCS to host a VOLUNTARY COVID vaccine clinic at MSMS and MSHS. The Pfizer vaccine will be offered to students ages 12 and up. Parental permission will be required prior to receiving the vaccine. Times will be announced in the near future.

Clinic Dates

First dose- Monday, August 23rd

Second dose- Monday, September, 13th

Please remember that the COVID vaccine, like all vaccines, is not 100% effective. Everyone should expect to hear of breakthrough cases (i.e. fully vaccinated people who contract the virus). That does not mean that the vaccine is not effective. To the contrary, vaccinated people who test positive generally experience milder symptoms and less hospitalizations.

Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine (ADPH)
Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine (CDC)

Getting Your Vaccine (CDC)

Find A Vaccine (CDC)
After You Are Vaccinated (CDC)

This message should not be interpreted that we will require any individual to prove or reveal their vaccination status.

International Travel

MSCS will follow CDC guidance on international travel for all students and staff. It is important to note that CDC does not recommend international travel until you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.The link below contains recommendations for fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people.

Big picture


Each school will communicate arrival and dismissal procedures.


Each school will communicate scheduling plans.


There will be a systematic review of all current student plans (e.g., Individual Healthcare Plans, Individualized Education Plans, or 504 Plans) for accommodating students with special needs, and their plans will be updated as needed.

Extracurricular Activities

Normal operations with facial coverings preferred and social distancing when feasible. Masks will be required on school buses.

Assemblies and Special Events

Limitations may be imposed. Normal operations with facial coverings preferred and social distancing when feasible.

Daytime Field Trips

Limitations may be imposed. Masks will be required on school buses in accordance with a federal mandate for public transportation.

Visitors on Campus

Limitations may be imposed. Facial coverings preferred when indoors and in situations where social distancing cannot be achieved.

Bus Transportation

CDC’s order to wear masks while on public conveyances applies to all public transportation including school buses. Regardless of the mask policy at school, passengers and drivers must wear masks on school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems, subject to the exclusions and exemptions in CDC’s Order.

Meal Service

Enhanced protocols and limitations will be imposed.

Cleaning Facilities

Enhanced protocols.

Use of lockers

Normal operations.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Instead, all information, content, and materials available in this document are for general informational purposes only. Information in this document may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This document contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader or user. MSCS and its staff do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites. Readers of this document should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader or user of this document should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information in this document without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein, and your interpretation of it, is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation. Use of and access to this document or any of the links or resources contained within the document, do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and document authors, contributors, contributing law firms, or committee members and their respective employers. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this document are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content in this document is provided "as is." No representations are made that the content is error-free. This guidance is not mandated, or state required. Local school districts have the authority and flexibility to meet their individual needs and be responsive to their communities.