Reopening Our Schools - Frequently Asked Questions

  • Our TCSS Reopening Our Schools document provides more information about topics listed in the FAQs, as well as topics not found in these FAQs. Please review the full document for additional information.

    On-Campus Learning

    What will the on-campus environment be like for students this year?

    For On-Campus Learners, TCSS will work to make the school environment as similar as possible to what students have experienced in the past, while still keeping health and safety measures a top priority. Current health orders will be followed, including those regarding masks. We will work to implement social distancing guidelines as closely as possible.

    The Tuscaloosa County School System is made up of 34 schools. Our school buildings are all different, with different numbers of students attending those schools, at different grade levels. TCSS has developed specific guidelines regarding cleanliness and social distancing measures; however, in order to implement the guidelines most realistically and in the best interest of each school community, “one-size-fits-all” is not the best approach. Students and families will receive more information from their individual schools, regarding specific details for each school.

    Examples of guidelines for all schools:

    Classrooms will maximize floor space and space desks/tables as far apart as possible.

    Classrooms and supplies will be cleaned daily.

    Shared items will be minimized or eliminated to the best extent possible.

    Schools will implement procedures for transition in the buildings, including class changes.

    There will be no field trips the first semester.

    Gatherings are subject to social distancing guidelines, and should be approached on a case-by-case basis.

    Will schools be able to let students eat in the cafeteria?

    Yes. Cafeteria occupancy will be reduced by having students space out while seated at tables. Alternate locations may be utilized to allow for spaced seating. Schools may utilize rotating schedules to allow for eating in the cafeteria, classrooms, and outside spaces for all students. Individual schools may alter their lunch times in order to meet social distancing guidelines.

    Will visitors be able to come into the school?

    A limited number of visitors will be allowed in buildings by appointment only. Parents and guardians will not be able to walk students into school, including on the first days of school. For the first semester, there will be no lunch or classroom visitors.

    Visitors are important to TCSS, and they reflect family and community involvement in our schools. But during this time, limiting visitors is another step in minimizing possible exposure to COVID-19 within our schools, and working to keep our schools open to our students.

    Will students participate in physical education classes?

    For PE, students will participate in non-contact, social-distanced activities. PE will be held outside, when possible.

    If my student chooses On-Campus Learning for the first nine weeks, and wants to become a Remote Learner for the second nine-weeks, can they do that?

    Yes. Students can choose to make the switch between On-Campus to Remote at the start of a new nine weeks.

    Off-Campus (also called Remote) Learning 

    How will Remote Learning work? 

    Students who choose Remote Learning will be assigned a teacher if they are in elementary school, or will be assigned a schedule if they are in middle or high school, just like if they were an on-campus student. All teachers will use Schoology, which is a learning management system. It works very much like Facebook, but it is secure and private. Teachers will upload their daily assignments, resources, tests, and other materials to Schoology.  

    Remote Learning students will have access to the same materials as On-Campus students. On-Campus students and Remote Learning students will complete the same assignments and turn them into their teacher in class or through Schoology.  

    Through Schoology, teachers will have the ability to chat, video/audio conference, post video lessons, and email students and parents/guardians. While teachers will maintain contact and offer support to their remote learners, students will not receive live instruction from a teacher all day long.

    Remote learners will have some flexibility as to when they complete their lessons. But, they will have to submit all assignments by due dates, those assignments will be graded, and they will have to take tests, all through Schoology. Remote learning lessons are graded, and are not considered enrichment.  Remote learners must be self-starters and motivate themselves to work away from campus on a daily basis. 

    If a Remote Learner wants to become an On-Campus Learner, they will be able to do that at the start of a new nine weeks. Remote Learners will have been receiving the same materials as On-Campus students, and they will be able to integrate into the schedule they were provided at the start of the year.

    Will Remote Learning students have to be in front of a computer all day long?  

    We will not require remote learners to be in front of a computer for the entire day. But, Remote Learning students should still expect to put the same amount of time into their learning and assignments, as though they were on-campus.  

    Can a Remote Learning student switch to On-Campus Learning during the school year? 

    Remote Learners will have the option to return to their school, for On-Campus Learning, at the beginning of each new nine weeks grading period. They will have to wait until that time to make the switch. Remote Learning students will have been receiving the same content as On-Campus Learners, and they will be able to integrate into the assigned schedule they received at the beginning of the year. 

    Why do I have to wait until the start of a new nine weeks to switch between On-Campus to Remote or from Remote to Off-Campus?

    It is simply not feasible for our schools and teachers to have students choosing to transition between these learning options at any given time. The opportunity to transition at the nine weeks point offers some flexibility for students and families, while creating a situation that is more manageable for our schools and better for the overall learning environment.

    Of course, students who must shift to Remote Learning due to quarantine guidelines will be able to do so as needed during the nine weeks.

    Will Remote Learning students be able to participate in extracurricular activities?  

    Yes. If the activity happens during the school day, such as Career Technical Education hands-on activities, band, or choir, the Off-Campus student must check in at the main office, when entering and exiting campus. If their activity ends at the end of the regular school day, they may leave with the rest of the student body, without checking out at the office. While the Off-Campus student is at the school, they must follow the same guidelines as On-Campus Learners.

    Can a Remote Learning student expect to receive instruction from their teacher throughout the school day?  

    While teachers will maintain contact and offer support to their remote learners, students will not receive live instruction from a teacher all day long.

    Teachers will upload their daily assignments, resources, tests, and other materials to Schoology. Through Schoology, teachers will have the ability to chat, video/audio conference, post video lessons, and email students and parents/guardians. There will be many ways for the teacher and student to be connected, but the teacher will not be available to an individual Remote Learner at all times during the day. 

    How will Remote Learners be assigned to classes and teachers? Will all Remote Learners in a grade level at a school have the same teacher?

    This will be determined on a school-by-school basis, depending upon the number of Remote Learners at that school

    Will a Remote Learner be allowed to participate in a Career Technical Education class in-person?

    Remote Learners at the high school level will be allowed to enroll in Career Technical Education courses, and come to campus for hands-on activities in those courses.

    Once I have indicated that my student will be a Remote Learning student (in the survey due by Friday, July 31), what do I need to do next?

    Your school will provide information on next steps. 

    General Reopening-Related Questions

    Could the TCSS Reopening Our Schools plan change?

    Yes. Our plan may be modified to fit the requirements established by updated health orders of guidance from the ALSDE or ADPH.

    When does school start?

    Faculty/Staff begin on August 12, 2020.

    Students (On-Campus and Off-Campus) will begin on August 20, 2020.

    Where can I get my SnapCode for online registration?

    Contact your school if you do not have a SnapCode.

    Will schools have Open Houses before the start of school? 

    Open Houses will be held virtually. Teachers will post videos to their teacher web page to introduce themselves and give a virtual classroom tour.

    Schools will have in-person Open House events for Pre-K and Kindergarten. Attendance will be limited to the student and their parents or guardians.

    Staggered Open House will be offered for students new to the system or new to the school, by appointment. Students new to TCSS should contact their school to schedule a tour.

    If a student has to be absent for an extended amount of time, or if a class/school has to close temporarily due to COVID-19 exposure, will students participate in Remote Learning?

    Yes. On-Campus Learners will use digital resources regularly to ensure students are familiar with these tools, in the event that an individual student, school, or the district must move to Remote Learning.

    Can a student choose to come to school on a staggered basis, or do a combination of On-Campus/Off-Campus Learning?

    In the event of a state mandate, TCSS may be required to reduce the number of students on campus. However, this is a district decision, and not an option available on an individual basis. In the situation that TCSS had to move to a staggered schedule, the district may implement an A/B (staggered) schedule for a set period of time to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. A & B Groups will be determined after school starts. All students residing at the same address would be assigned to the same group in order to assist families. 

    If the district or a school must transition to remote learning, would teachers still be at the school buildings?

    Most likely, yes. Teachers would be able to adequately social distance in their classrooms. There could be exceptions to this, such as a state mandate to close our buildings to employees, or the need for a teacher to quarantine, due to COVID-19 exposure.

    What is Schoology?

    It is a learning management system that is private and secure. All TCSS teachers will upload their daily assignments, resources, tests, and other materials to Schoology. Remote Learners will use Schoology to complete lessons and communicate with their teachers, but On-Campus students will also use Schoology in their classes. Through Schoology, teachers will have the ability to chat, video/audio conference, post video lessons, and email students and parents/guardians.

    What if my student wants to do Off-Campus Learning, but does not have a computer or tablet?

    If a student does not have a computer or device at home, devices will be available for student check-out (subject to availability). These devices are to be used for educational purposes only. Off-campus students will be required to follow the same rules and procedures that are required for using a TCSS-owned device on-campus. Your school will follow up with you about device checkout procedures.

    What if my student wants to do Off-Campus Learning, but does not have high-speed internet access at home?

    We realize students in some areas of our county cannot receive internet. We are working right now on solutions to create WiFi drive-up zones across our district and put WiFi on buses with longer bus routes. If you indicated in your Off-Campus Learning sign-up that you do not have reliable, high-speed internet at your home, your school will contact you in August with more information.

    I want to purchase a device for home to support my student’s learning. What should I buy?

    Windows-based personal computer – desktop or laptop

    Apple device – iPad, Mac laptop or desktop

    We do not recommend a Chromebook because we are not a Google for Education district and cannot support those devices. A smart phone is also not an appropriate device.

    Below is a list of the devices we use in our schools:

    • iPad 7th Generation 32 GB Wifi

           Logitech Rugged Combo 3 Keyboard/Case

    • MacBook Air with Retina Display (13”)

           8 GB RAM

           256 GB Storage

    • iMac (Desktop)

           21.5” Display

           8GB RAM

           256GB SSD for storage

    We recommend AppleCare+ for all Apple devices.

    Faculty/Staff-Related FAQs

    This document contains additional FAQs, related specifically to TCSS faculty and staff.