Muscle Shoals City Schools

July 15, 2020

Reopening Plans for Muscle Shoals City Schools 2020-2021 ***THIS PLAN WAS UPDATED ON JULY 30, 2020***


As school opens in the fall, please know that MSCS will be implementing practical health and wellness procedures in coordination with the state department of education and public health officials to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

This plan details practices that include clear, actionable steps that will be taken as students and staff return for the 2020-2021 school year. This plan emphasizes the steps we plan to take to protect the health and safety of students and staff as schools reopen. This plan IS NOT intended to be comprehensive of all the precautions that MSCS will take as we open schools in these unprecedented times.

We acknowledge the seemingly ever-changing aspect of guidance we receive related to COVID-19. 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.

We also acknowledge that cases of COVID-19 and periodic quarantines involving students and staff in our schools are inevitable, as are all other illnesses that affect students and staff in any given year. In each instance, we will follow our local health and safety protocols and any guidance provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Important Dates **REVISED ON JULY 30**

July 31
New employee orientation

August 3
All employees report for Institute to their respective schools

August 4-19
Teacher work days and professional development

August 10-14

Connection & Orientation Week FOR VIRTUAL LEARNERS

Each school principal will communicate a plan for virtual students to

1) Receive a school-owned Chromebook
2) Receive an appropriate orientation to remote/virtual learning

*Teachers will use this week to connect with their students, orient them to the remote formats that will be used for instruction, and assist families with working through issues and concerns that they may have. No grades will be taken during this week, but virtual students WILL BE REQUIRED to log in and engage with their teachers for a proper orientation to remote learning.

August 20 (we will gradually begin in-person school with small groups)

Staggered start for all students, K-12

School principals will communicate the days on which students should expect to attend.

Educational Options

1) In-Person (Traditional) - students attend classes in a traditional, on-campus setting. In-person learning may involve virtual/digital components, just as they have in the past. With MSCS being a 1:1 technology district (meaning all students have access to devices at school), our teachers have offered blended learning for years. However, devices at school will no longer be shared as they have been in the past. Each student will be assigned his/her own Chromebook.

2) Remote (Virtual) - students attend classes "remotely" using a variety of virtual and/or paper resources. Teachers will have regular check-in times and may provide virtual instruction through live and/or recorded lessons. The learning platforms (i.e. Google Classroom, Schoology, SeeSaw, etc.) will vary according to subject and grade level. The curriculum will be aligned with Alabama Course of Study standards. MSCS plans to use an accredited online curricular program, SchoolsPLP (provided by the Alabama State Department of Education), for remote learning.

A note about blended (hybrid) learning: Blended learning may also occur when a student is quarantined at home due to testing positive or an exposure to COVID-19. Quarantined students will be allowed to participate remotely in class activities to the extent possible. A student who is quarantined will be permitted to return to in-person learning when safe to do so according to district health protocols. Students will not be able to pick and choose which classes they take in-person and which classes they take virtually.

For electives or extracurriculars, virtual students may attend an in-person class for an elective that is connected to a competition or performance after-school extracurricular program. For example, high school band class is connected to marching band where in-person rehearsals are essential to the program. Athletic PE is connected to football and volleyball where in-person workouts are essential to the program. Other electives must be taken via virtual curricula unless there is no virtual course option. For example, virtual students may attend carpentry, welding, or autobody classes since there is no virtual curricula offered in these areas. If no virtual course exists and the student chooses not to attend in-person, another course offering must be selected.

If you wish for your child to attend school for in-person (traditional) learning, you do not have to contact the school to make that selection. However, if you wish to choose the remote (virtual) option, you will need to make contact with your child's school if you haven't already spoken with someone (such as a principal or guidance counselor). Parents/guardians may request their child transition to a virtual program after school has begun, but the student must remain enrolled in the virtual platform for the remainder of the semester.

Decision Deadline for the Virtual Option Extended to Monday, July 20. In order for the schools to appropriately prepare for the upcoming school year and having two pathways of learning - virtual and in-person - that will require rearranging staff and schedules to meet the needs of students, we ask parents/students to make their decision by Monday, July 20. The Virtual School Program Option commitment form is linked below and will need to be promptly submitted to the principal.


The virtual commitment form is due to each school principal by Monday, July 20 so that appropriate time exists to adjust student and teacher schedules.

District Health Protocols (As of 7/30/2020)

Wherever you see **NEW** there is updated information from the Alabama Department of Public Health and we have updated our district health protocols accordingly.

These guidelines are consistent with the latest information from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Individual schools may have additional protocols above and beyond the ones noted here.


**NEW** Screening - The screening process begins at home with parents checking temperatures daily. 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. When students feel well enough to complete assignments at home, learning will continue using virtual/digital tools. Additionally, our staffs will be trained to identify the signs and symptoms of COVID19. We have purchased additional contactless thermometers and other nursing supplies and will increase screenings at school.

**NEW** Facial Coverings (Masks) - Per the order of Governor Kay Ivey and effective through August 31, all persons (staff and students in 2nd grade and above) will wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times

when within six feet of a person from another household. The governor's order does allow exceptions for practical necessity, exercise, effective communication, and essential job function. Read the latest "Safer at Home" order from Governor Ivey here.

Social Distancing - The ideal distance to prevent/slow the spread of viruses is 6 feet. There is evidence to suggest that, in the absence of a 6 foot space barrier, distances as little as 3 feet provide a level of protection, particularly for children. From the ALSDE Roadmap to Reopening: "Maintaining physical distance between persons is another method that may be employed to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus according to both CDC and ADPH...Maintaining physical distance will not always be practical inside school settings and there is no expectation to do so. However, local school systems can refer to guidance from the CDC and ADPH to help craft best practices. For instance, space may not allow placing six feet between student desks, but it might be practical to place a little more space between desks and to face them all in one direction." (Explanation: this language from the Alabama Roadmap to Reopening just states the obvious that maintaining the ideal physical distance between persons "at all times" is an unreasonable expectation in a school environment.)

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 - staff and students should bring their own water to minimize use and touching of water fountains.

Isolation and Quarantine Procedures as recommended by ADPH

  • Positive COVID-19 without symptoms (Laboratory Confirmed) - Isolation can discontinue 10 days after first positive test date if person has remained asymptomatic.

  • Positive COVID-19 with symptoms (Laboratory Confirmed) - Isolation can end after the following criteria are met: 1) at least 10 days from onset of symptoms and 2) at least 24 hours since last fever using no fever-reduction medication and symptoms have improved.

Exposure - A student or staff member will be considered exposed to COVID-19 if the individual has had close contact (less than 6 feet) for an extended time (greater than or equal to 15 minutes). This is the 6/15 rule that is used as an operational definition of COVID-19 exposure by the Center for Disease Control. For general and practical purposes, MSCS will not consider an entire class "exposed" if a student or staff member in that class tests positive for COVID-19. Exposures will be determined through public health contact tracing protocols. An individual with an exposure by CDC definition will quarantine according to the following protocols:

  • Exposed person who exhibits symptoms (exposed in household or by close contact) - follow the same protocols as a person positive for COVID-19 with symptoms.

  • Exposed person with or without symptoms who tests negative or does not test at all (exposed in household or by close contact) - must quarantine; may discontinue isolation 14 days after last exposure to a positive case. It is important to note that a negative test does not necessarily mean the person is negative or will remain negative. The individual must finish out the full 14-day quarantine period. If the individual tests positive during the 14-day quarantine period, refer to Laboratory-Confirmed Case guidance.


  • Exposed person with positive contacts who share a room/living quarters (have on-going contact with a positive case) - must quarantine throughout the isolation period of the positive individual plus an additional 14 days. For example, if a parent has to care for a child with COVID-19 and maintain close contact throughout a 10 day isolation period for the child, the parent must isolate himself/herself 14 additional days.

Contact Tracing - operationally defined as, "warning contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission." Contact tracing is primarily a function of the Alabama Department of Public Health. From the ADPH website, "If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, an employee from the health department (contact tracer) may call to inform you that you’ve been exposed. They will ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine. Close contact means you were within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes. Self-quarantine helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can help keep your friends and neighbors healthy."

School Response - Students who are identified as having a fever and/or symptoms of COVID-19 will be placed in an isolation area to be reviewed by a nurse or another trained staff member. The school nurse will provide an assessment to check for COVID-19 symptoms. If symptoms are present, the parent will be called for student pick up and recommended to report to their personal health care provider, urgent care facility, or the Colbert County Health Department for further instructions. The parent/guardian of a student who tests positive should notify their school nurse and/or school administrators upon their knowledge of this positive result (student/staff identification will remain confidential as required by law). The Lead Nurse is required to report and verify all positive COVID-19 results with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

School Communication - If school personnel has knowledge of an exposure as defined by the 6/15 rule (within 6 feet for greater than or equal to 15 minutes), personnel will make appropriate contacts while respecting the confidentiality of student/staff identities. Personnel will not, however, speculate on exposures nor communicate regarding an individual who is being tested or waiting on test results. The school district will not make a public statement every time a positive COVID-19 test is confirmed among our students and staff. Administration and nursing staff will monitor all cases of COVID-19 that arise among students/staff and determine if and when changes in school protocols or operations are necessary.


The expectations for both teachers and students will be different than this past spring when we offered a "chiseled down" curriculum of only essential standards. This fall, virtual students will be held to the same academic standards as in-person students. All standards are required no matter the setting. Assessments will be given with grades assigned for work at all grade levels. A course taken virtually may or may not have the same teacher as the course being delivered at school. The decisions on this area of the plan will be dictated by numbers and may vary from school to school. For example, if we have 25 students in the 9th grade requesting the virtual program, we may create a section of 9th grade English for those virtual students and assign to a single teacher. However, if we have only 5 students in 9th grade requesting the virtual program, those 5 students will be assigned to learn remotely along with an in-person class. This is an area of our plan that is a work-in-progress as we determine how many students request the in-person option versus the remote/virtual option.

Screening to Address Learning Gaps
The Muscle Shoals City Schools uses STAR Assessments to formatively and summatively address the learning gains of our students. STAR is purposeful in that it provides the data and insight our teachers need to make appropriate instructional decisions. STAR is backed by research, validity studies, and millions of data points. STAR delivers maximum impact in minimal time and is highly predictive of performance on state and other high-stakes tests.

District Plan to adhere to the Alabama Literacy Act

MSCS offered a summer reading program in 2020 to elementary students who were identified as having a reading deficiency, and we will offer and expand the same program in the summer of 2021. Our Community Education Program provides tutoring for students who struggle in reading. Additionally, our district is contracting services to improve comprehension instruction. We have partnered with ARI for staff development on the science of reading, and 31 MSCS teachers are currently participating in LETRS training.

In-Person Learning Environments

  • Traditional face-to-face learning where students will return to the classroom with increased social distancing and other safety measures in place.
  • Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible. Teachers may also turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart. CDC guidance acknowledges that ideal spacing may not always be possible in school environments.
  • Masks WILL BE REQUIRED for staff and students in 2nd grade and up per the governor's statewide mask mandate issued on July 29. The mask order is effective through August 31.
  • Students will change classes where applicable, but school administration will formulate plans to control movement to limit exposure when possible. Students are encouraged to wear a face covering when changing classes.
  • Until further notice, class field trips and daytime assemblies/gatherings where distancing cannot be achieved are suspended (this does not include athletics, band, or other after school travel that may occur in conjunction with a contest or performance. We are continuing to digest the state’s guidance on bus transportation and consider what other changes, if any, we need to make).

Remote Learning/Virtual Program

  • Students will not physically attend school but will participate in school-based remote learning from home.
  • Students will be expected to log-in to the virtual learning platform daily.
  • The learning platforms (i.e. Google Classroom, Schoology, SeeSaw, etc.) will vary. MSCS plans to use an accredited online curricular program, SchoolsPLP (provided by the Alabama State Department of Education), for remote learning.
  • Virtual students will not have access to in-person small group, individualized instruction.
  • It is recommended that remote learners have strong reading and computer navigation skills, as remote learning will be even more challenging without these skills.
  • Remote learning will require enhanced assistance from parents/guardians at home.
  • Daily Internet accessibility (day and night) will be essential.
  • There may be an expectation of live instruction, so students may be required to log-on at specific times as part of a virtual course.
  • Choosing the remote/virtual option will be a semester-long commitment.


Each school will communicate arrival and dismissal procedures. Click the appropriate school plan link above.


Each school will communicate scheduling plans. Click the appropriate school plan link above.


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.

The following resource is recommended by our Student Services department:

IrisCenter (Vanderbilt) Supporting Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This resource is recommended for parents of students in remote learning, particularly students with special needs.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities will proceed adhering to the same health and safety guidelines outlined for the school day with respect to facial coverings, social distancing, personal hygiene, and enhanced cleaning protocols. Students choosing the virtual option may participate in extracurricular activities.

Assemblies and Special Events

The more we can limit interaction with other people, the better we can mitigate the spread of viruses. Until further notice, class field trips and daytime assemblies/gatherings where distancing cannot be achieved are suspended (this does not include athletics, band, or other after school travel that may occur in conjunction with a contest or performance).

Each school will communicate more specifically about assemblies and special events at each campus. An assembly or special event can only occur if state and local health guidelines can be achieved. These events may include open house, student/parent orientation, meet the teacher, mass gatherings, parent/teacher conferences, parties, celebrations, pep rallies, field trips, and other assemblies of this nature. These events may be held virtually.

Meal Service

Our meal service will consist mainly of “grab and go” and/or pre-boxed meals to start school. The traditional “buffet style” where everyone touches the same serving spoon will not be permitted. Principals are currently considering ways that students can eat in the cafeterias, perhaps at 50% capacity like restaurants are doing now with workers wearing masks and facial shields. This may not be possible at every school but know we are considering ways to do that, such as a rotating schedule. No outside food will be permitted at class parties and similar events.

Each school will communicate more specific meal service plans. Click on the appropriate school plan link above for more information.

Bus Transportation

Our buses will be sanitized daily just like our classrooms, particularly frequently touched surfaces such as the seats and handrails. On days when the weather is nice, students will be allowed (encouraged) to walk to and from the Muscle Shoals Career Academy with proper supervision as they cross Brown Street. In inclement weather, our buses will make additional trips if necessary if crowding on the bus is an issue. Hand sanitizer will be available, and students will be encouraged to wear a mask while riding the bus. Having a mask available and wearing it on our short in-system routes is an easy thing that we can do to help slow the spread of the virus. We are continuing to digest the state’s guidance on bus transportation and consider what other changes, if any, we need to make.

Enhanced Cleaning Protocols

When school opens in the fall, MSCS will increase fogging (sanitizing) to a daily routine until further notice from the Alabama Department of Public Health and district leadership.

Visitors on Campus

Per state health guidelines, schools will limit non-school personnel from entering our buildings and interacting with our students. Parents and guardians are encouraged to conduct school business via phone or email as much as possible. For the time being, we will restrict parents/grandparents and others from coming to eat lunch with their children and/or family members attending class parties. Our hope is that these restrictions are short-lived, but they are necessary for the health and safety of our children.

Emergency 50% Plan

In the event that MSCS is forced to operate at 50% capacity, a blended approach with an A-day/B-day schedule will be instituted. Students will be divided into two groups, likely alphabetically. Students will alternate between in-person and remote learning with A-day students attending in-person on Mondays and Wednesday and B-day students attending in-person on Tuesday and Thursdays. Fridays will remain reserved for specialized instruction while most students work remotely. If an Emergency 50% Plan is instituted, all employees will continue to report to work at the school buildings unless otherwise directed by the superintendent. Decisions on this will be made in consultation with the administrative team, nursing staff, the local health department, and in consideration of COVID-19 cases/exposures and daily attendance rates. Alternate scheduling plans may impact the entire district or individual schools/classrooms.

Emergency Remote Learning Plan

All in-person courses will have virtual components to ease in the transition of MSCS being forced to operate with remote learning for ALL students. In this scenario, all students will shift to the expectations of remote learning as outlined above. If an Emergency Remote Learning Plan is instituted, all employees will continue to report to work at the school buildings unless otherwise directed by the superintendent. Decisions on this will be made in consultation with the administrative team, nursing staff, the local health department, and in consideration of COVID-19 cases/exposures and daily attendance rates. Alternate scheduling plans may impact the entire district or individual schools/classrooms.

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff should communicate any high risk issues to school administration prior to the beginning of the school year in order for the district to develop a plan.

The district will schedule professional development for faculty on the use of virtual platforms.

Faculty and staff will be offered personal protective equipment to include facial masks (or shields), gloves (upon request), and room sanitation materials.

Faculty and staff may wear masks, gloves, and other protective clothing at their own discretion except in situations where distancing cannot be achieved.

In cases where a faculty or staff member is sick due to COVID-19, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will be followed. This Act can be found at

Teachers will create and maintain a minimum of 15 days of lesson materials that may be used in an emergency situation where the teacher is sick or quarantined and unable to teach remotely.

In cases where the school system initiates a school-wide blended platform, faculty and staff may be expected to report to their classrooms and work areas to facilitate learning with their students on the approved virtual platform.

In the event childcare is necessary for the faculty or staff member, child care will be provided for school-aged children at each school for the parent-teacher. Principals will develop and execute contingency plans for use of faculty or staff to provide on-campus child care for children of working faculty.

Custodial work schedules may be staggered to ensure full building sanitation each day.

Professional development will be provided to custodians on COVID-19 sanitation techniques and equipment.

Temperatures of all CNP employees will be taken and recorded before they sign in each morning by the school's lunchroom supervisor. If a temperature is more than 100.4, they will be sent home. In the presence of a positive COVID-19 test, CNP employees may not return to work for 2 weeks and must be symptom free or present a negative COVID-19 test. Masks and facial shields will be available for CNP employees. However, they will not be required to wear them unless they will be in direct contact with students or food preparation.


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-todate 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.